The luminous chisel transforms the charcoal


If it is death always - it comes second.

Freedom comes always first.

G. Ritsos

"The incremental" from the collection "Hallway and Staircase"


What kind of interior light does Apostolos Fanakidis search for in his recent sculptural proposition of the 2000-2010 period, with his unprecedented wall-mountedcharcoal? Where does this primary material compels us with its unfamiliar and chaotic dimensions? What kind of inner landscape does it reveal to us through the deep darkness of an endless labyrinth? Is it a kind of deadlock or is it fear?

In 2005, the sculptor measured himself once more with the surrounding space and history by putting up his biggest ever monumental installation, the Monument of Patriots executed by the Nazis in the Shooting Ground of Kessariani. Two stately columns, made of bronze and granite, 7 meters-high each, create an elongated passageway which leads the visitor's gaze to the site of the horrible execution. Through the appropriation of a contemporary vocabulary, by means of expressive austerity, Fanakidis draws near the sentiment of deep mourning, free from the narrative mood. The Monument evokes memories of violence and tragic fate of people who have experienced the tyranny of those men who have craved freedom and dignity. The symbolism is apparent. Red straight lines of laser beams penetrate the water surface and refer to the bloodshed. At the same time, the two tombstones with sharp expressionist carved surface -which recede, as the viewer's glance moves upwards- cause a more optimistic mood, by the polishing of the brass.

All the way through his creative adventure, Fanakidis starts from the particular characteristics (enlargements, cracks, holes, etc.) of the materials he uses, only to be submerged in the core material in order to make visible his sculpting proposal. The archaic and primitive sculptures continue to influence his work. He works with feeling and instinct. The forms define space based on the vertical and its deviations. Nothing is random -claims the sculptor- when we observe carefully the world around us. His obsession focuses on the path of mankind. The body, in its entire anthropocentric function, stripped from its religious and ideological "myths", is the facade of yet another reality. The deciduas of human civilization and the deadlock in the vanity of modern man are reflected in his sculptural pursuits. It is a sculptural process that always starts from the outside inward. His representative works remain the oversized feet, sometimes moulded of copper and sometimes of plaster or cement, alluding to the surreal dimension and permanent desire to connect the real with the imaginary.

Furthermore, it's worth acknowledging the period 1978-1981, which is an important stage of the artist's itinerary, culminating with one of the first prizes at the Biennale of Budapest. During this period, the human figure strongly dominates in his work, not as form/image of a classical expression, but as body/soul with a deeper expressionist research. Fanakidis moulds his forms with expressionist strength reaching through the cracks of the material their corruptible nature. They face with perplexity their constriction from their technological environment (reference to the work "Man and city", bronze, 40 cm.) and their unrealised dreams (reference to the works "Figure", bronze, 50 cm. and "Lying head", bronze, 40 cm.). In the enigmatic sculpture "Wolf" (bronze, 2 m., 1987), the male body with a wolf head, with the extended opening of his mouth and his aggressive teeth, displays with pride his excited phallus. Desire, loneliness, violence, all seek their vindication at the point where the body becomes the true mirror of the soul. The human being equally able to do good or bad is standing in confrontation with the universe and the reality of fortune. His existence constitutes one tightrope walk between deep interior darkness and supernatural light.

In 2008, in the same expressionist mood the sculptor shapes the head of Alberto Giacometti, paying a tribute to the great Swiss sculptor, who enjoyed a tremendous influence on the development of 20th century sculpture through his stretched and wraithlike figures. Fanakidis worked first in clay and then in plaster the head of this great absent of modern sculpture. After successive treatments with the ancient method of lost wax, he managed to capture the unique expressive power, using the neon light at the completion of his proposition. The form of Giacometti, with its delicate modelling and intense clarity, break almost in two by a blue beam of light, stimulating its surreal dimension.

Fanakidis provides drama in his sculptural creations throughout his artistic path. The sculptor immediately focuses his interest in the unusual beauty of form and colour, in the narrative variations and in the expressive emotions through the distortions introduced in his work. Several of his creations tend to the sphere of hyperrealism in order to reach the indefinable and the elusive dream. The materials he uses vary: charcoal, plaster, brass, thin reeds, etc., with the purpose of reaching the final embossed structures or other sculptural forms. The neon light occupies a dominant role in his recent work. In several wall-mounted works, the straight line, either horizontal or vertical, with its clear red light explodes the dark surface of charcoal, causing multiple interpretations. However, the dilemma remains. If reality is not to be found in the daylight only, then darkness must be left in the dark.


Takis Mavrotas

Director of Fine Arts Program

B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music