"Agios" (greek for Saint - Άγιος) is the project I graduated with from the Art Academy in Maastricht NL, the year of 2020. It holds a series of different works, including media like photography, prints, installations, film and text. This project has its roots in the chapel of Agios Athonas, located in Pelion, Greece as is was the place that contributed in growing a big interest in the relation between humans and what we call God, religion and faith.
In concept, the project explores the fine line existing within the duality of things: there is life and there is death, there is the light and there is the darkness, creation and destruction, good and evil. Many of these separations or extremes where defined and named by religions which led me to the need to understand, not the religions self, but the psychology of the human soul that created them, as well as their irrationalistic needs.
The human mind, the creator of these separations and the creator of the interpretation of reality through religions and more specific, through faith, stands in the middle of what gets defined as spirituality. A "medium" that helps in giving meaning that fills the gap existing between the one end of an extreme to another.
Faith had and has, a big influence in the shaping of cultures and knowledge but what is actually faith? Is faith necessarily a matter of belief in God, or in religious doctrines? Is faith by necessity in contrast to, or divorced from, reason and rational thinking? As very aptly the psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm asks. He also says: "Even to begin to understand the problem of faith one must differentiate between rational and irrational faith. By irrational faith I understand the belief (in a person or an idea) which is based on one's submission to irrational authority. In contrast, rational faith is a conviction which is rooted in one's experience of thought of feeling. Rational faith is not primarily belief in something, but the quality of certainty and firmness which our convictions have. Faith is a character trait pervading the whole personality, rather than a specific belief." (The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm).
The chapel of Agios Athonas in Pelion, Greece.
Faith, in its romanticisation, gets associated with light.
For me, because of being born and raised in Greece, a country overflowed by light and covered with small chapels and churches built in every corner of the land, was this association not only spiritual known but also familiar to my eye.
The connection between the light and the divine became an important part in the visualisation of my project introducing the viewer to a certain melancholy of the scenery, a very characteristic element visible in the short film Light of Go(l)d.
Light is the greatest source of life and the "divine painter of the world” as Honoré de Balzac describes in one of his works pointing to the significance and beauty of it. To picture the fragility, sensibility and power of light, I use gold-leaves in some of my works, a material that gets mostly used in the Orthodox religious art for its symbolisation of light, the goodness and the spiritual wealth of the divine. In some other works, I photographed ruined icons that are kept in the chapel of Agios Athonas as I found them, represent perfectly the beauty of the contrast between the divine depiction (creation) en the passing time (destruction).
Iconoclasm III - core (2020)
Iconoclasm IV - agios (2020)
A series of photos that capture, in detail, ruined parts of old, Orthodox Icons found in the chapel of Agios-Athonas in Pelion, Greece.
There is a dance of decay spreading slowly on the wooden surface of the icon and on some parts it is like a small insect engraved marks on its passage.
A visible contrast has been shaped as time exceeds the divine depiction and the hand of the painter leaving us with a new creation coming from the beauty of destruction.
refers to the destruction of images or hostility toward visual representations in general, most frequently for religious or political reasons. In this case it applies to the point that this work depicts ruined parts of icons but are not combined with any religious/political reasons and are not destroyed on purpose.
Seven years ago, I visited the island of Skyros in Greece. The wild beauty of it captivated me as it dominance seemed to succumb the human element. Yet, there was harmony and respect imprinted on the flow of the passing time leading to a unique embracement that I found to be perfectly captured in the picture above. This chapel of Agios Nikólaos, located on the northern edge of the island is curved out from a rock. Notice the open door, revealing a black hole and the light blue contour having exactly the same tone as the sky, the "home of God". The white paint as a symbol of purity and holiness spread on a part of the coarse surface of the windswept rock. The cross on the top, the bench, a glimpse of the Aegean sea on the background. Human culture and nature become one and coexist as it was meant to be this way.
Iconoclasm I - fragments (2020)
Gold-leaves placed on the floor. Usually, gold-leaves decorate walls, roofs and icons and their decorative role highlights the object/surface they cover. Here, I disintegrate their usage and expose them to every little movement that happen around them making it an interactive installation. The lightness and fragility of gold in this position controversies, decreases and defiances the meaning and symbolism of it making it a conceptual playground.
Post light-ism (2020)
Three-hundred-and-sixty-five (365) gold-leaves placed on a glass surface.
A piece of coal is facing the gold-leaves, hanging on approximately 6 cm above them.
In this case the gold-leaves stand for the light (that's why there are 365 of them, same number as the days of a year). Light means life and goodness that controversies the black piece of coal that comes from a tree that was hit by a lighting.
These two are facing each other as they are both, two forms of light, therefor this work reveals the two natures of it: life and death/ creation and destruction.
Small glass bottles filled with olive oil, red wine and salted water.
Patris in Greek means fatherland. This work is inspired by the Noble prized-winning Greek poet Odysseas Elytis who wrote:
"If you take Greece apart, In the end you will be left with an olive tree, a vineyard and a boat."
Here, the olive tree becomes olive oil, the vineyard becomes red wine and the boat salted-water.
Light of Go(l)d (2019-2020)
Short film, 9min and 35sec.
A collection of videos that follow the light in luminous and light-reflecting forms, natural and unnatural and get presented in such a way, so an interaction takes place that emphasises the meaning of light and a detailed and deeper form of observation gets created. Windows of light-sources appear on screen, time falls apart and the observer gets placed in the middle of the duality of things. Between light and dark, between creation and destruction, the material world and the world of the shadows. The short film has an audio fragment based on a musical piece by the Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis and piano played by Lydia Linardou. The videos are filmed in Greece and in the Netherlands the past two years.
Agios / Essay
“On a top of a hill was where that small chapel was built. Abandoned by the faithful, lonely, with the view of the mountain Pelion ricing on the right and smaller hills laying underneath it, on the left, reaching the Pagasitikós gulf. Built there, exposed to the sunlight from the beginning of the day until the end, overflowed by all these lights and having the north wind coming from the mountain rubbing its cracked walls, it was the chapel of Agios-Athonas.
Standing there, with a timeless world of light and life around me, colourful and rich in smells and sounds, that didn’t even notice my existence, made me feel powerless, invisible, facing a big world with its dominant, natural flow of life and death. A glimpse of fear would appear, crawling slowly from each corner of my body to my heart, telling me that I’m nothing more than a part of that flow, nothing more than life and death. I would look up, search for Him in the endless blue sky but I could never meet His figure with my eyes because He was nowhere, yet, He was everywhere. Sometimes, I would open the door of the chapel and get inside the small, dark space closing the door behind me. It was very quiet there, I could feel the quietness. The only noise was the wind trying to get inside from a small hole on the roof, like a whistle, a dimmed song of an invisible force that for some reason would make the quietness more notable. Then, I would light a candle in front of the icon of the holy, of Agios-Athonas and sit on a chair looking at that small source of light dancing with its own death. Being as powerful and vivid as the light of the sun outside, it felt like I brought a drop of this light inside, creating this flame, giving birth to the holy spirit inside the chapel.”