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FIKOS - Today's Myths and Icons

Words:

Edd Norval
September 26, 2018

Fikos is unique for a contemporary street artist. The works that most influence the young Athenian comes from the Byzantine era - his incorporation of the style gives his work a unique presence on the streets.

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For this, Fikos has his background to thank. Growing up in Greece, particularly Athens, the influence of the Eastern Orthodox church was in his life from a young age. It's associated iconography is inescapable in the city. Studying under reputable Byzantine artist George Kordis from the age of 13, Fikos quickly developed a fascination with the style that he still paints today.


Alongside Kordis, an artist that is remarkable in his way of portraying 'Byzantine Art in a Postmodern world', the budding painter honed his technique over the 5 year period they spent together. Often working side-by-side on murals in Orthodox churches, Fikos displayed an unerring appetite to deepen his understanding of its intricate symbolism and develop his own unique hallmarks as he painted in highly decorative sacred spaces around the country.


With roots in such a classical form of art, his experience of contemporary art is much like a classical musician listening to hip-hop - it's always through a learned lens. Knowing the technical and ideological intricacies of the classic form, Fikos soon began to allow the influences of the contemporary world to seep into his consciousness. The choir-boy was becoming interested in punk.

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With an utmost respect for quality, his portable images are created using egg tempera on handmade Japanese paper. What's the point in taking the time to learn if it's not treated with the respect as it becomes manifest?


Graffiti culture, highly prevalent in Athens, a perpetually political city, began to merge with his own style. It wasn't simply a case of applying what he knew onto a new canvas, instead his studiousness was as unrelenting as it was in his youth - only he had something else to work towards mastering.


With one foot in the iconography that he had spent so long learning, he takes what he knows to the street and creates an eye-catching clash of styles. Whilst Fikos doesn't adopt graffiti as much as he simply allows the style whisper into his ear - the impact this subculture had on him shouldn't be ignored. His work on the streets feel somehow misplaced, as if their message might be lost on the audience. What gives his work the impact is that the exact opposite is true - it resonates. While more people are moving away from, or at least losing their fervour for the church, he brings the age-old imagery to them.

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Using colours associated with the Byzantine era, their subdued nature, especially in comparison to the often vibrant art that occupies the walls around it, manages to stand out. When we are being shouted at by adverts, newspapers and social media, people are looking for an enclave of thoughtful reflection. Fikos, reminding us of the defining moments that built the path we walk on, sates this very modern need. To stand in front of his pieces is to welcome into your life a hushed minute or two. It's a break from the compulsive lives we live. It's a gift.


Comparisons usually blight artists rather than setting them free. They're a subconscious nagging that tells you what to do and what not to. Luckily, the artists that Fikos gets compared to have been gone for a long, long time. Drawing from such influences has helped shape his outlook and opinion of art. Street art's shortcoming (and oftentimes strength) stems from it being very 'of the moment', in both subject and context. For Fikos, he believes that art should be more timeless and touch on more universal themes.


This too is refreshing. We're constantly fed reminders about how indaquate our world leaders are, or part-ironic depictions that take shots at the lives we've been forced into through social and political means. Fikos isn't interested in this. He aimed for the heavens and he made it. His work, despite his relative youth, seems to have been created by a person with a deep understanding of human nature - one that usually comes from such a profound understanding of religious and spiritual symbology.


Fikos isn't interested in being attractive to a new generation, nor to other artists who are 'gossiping through paintings'. If he were interested in such earthly matters, he'd have done well to leave the classical stuff at the door of adulthood. Luckily for us, and for future generations, he has persevered in a style that seems endearingly at odds with the contemporary cultural landscape. When everything happens fast and goes away even faster, Fikos is leaving us something that will stand the test of time. How do we know? Well, it's lasted thousands of years before and there's nothing to say that it won't last thousands more.

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