Art Critic, Thessaloniki, February 1994
Whenever art comes up against a circumference, whenever it touches the unseen face of its periphery, it touches something primeval, something from which it has sprung and which, when it cannot be overcome, serves as a point of transition to which it can later return.
This overcoming is a revolution in artistic expression, when the artist tames the primeval and transforms it into the language of critical necessity.
We have become accustomed, however, to describe this phenomenon as a birth, an incipience which refers to the existence of a death.
But since in art there is no death -at least in its figurative interpretation- it is more a question of a state of slumber.
When a few years ago the limelight swung back to emotional expression, in its expressionist form, we were led towards a series of phenomena, most of which were suggestive not of birth but rather of an unnatural adoption, to such a degree in fact that with no particular theoretical exertion one might even speak of abduction.
Essentially, however, we had transgressed the precepts of art.
Perhaps, however, if the phrase “swing back”, used in the preceding paragraph, were replaced with the word “revival”, the result might be closer to reality, although it would lack the necessary emphasis.
This is because certain artists had articulated their artistic expression in the climate of the proposals formulated in the first decades of this century.
These were artists, who, from idiosyncrasy or volition, and in a deadly act of negation, mirrored the image of the personal in the collective environment, choosing the spirituality of figurative imagelessness, the disciplined ecstasy of colour, as the vehicle which would carry them into the present.
In modern Greek art these events took on a special pattern, since even in the 1970s the Greek figurative landscape was still ruled to a considerable degree by vampires from the art of bygone decades.
Protest had moved abroad and was making its mark, while dissent
whinin Greece had become chiefly associated with contemporary movements in the fields of space and object.
The art of Yiorgos Xenos focusses on that which disappears with the object, which also constitutes his starting point.
His work has two principal characterestics: the subject and the chromatic language.
The subject, although it costitutes an event, seems to be the silent repose of a closed object before and beyond reality.
At other times his subject is the simple appearance of personified reality, with no desire to approach or to apprehend the source whence the object springs.
A mountain, a piece of fruit, a human silhouette, an historic sculpture: these are the objects which follow one another across the figurative stage of the artist’s canvas; and each of them is rendered in specific circumstances emanating from the manner in which Xenos transforms the object into an event.
Frequently, in fact, they lose their physical properties and are transferred to that plane of expressionistic expression where loss is no longer an absence but an affirmation.
They are events of another order.
Thus the mountains become more intensely mountainous, the fruit more intensely fruit. Events closer to their own being. “Creations that sing”, in Paul Valery’s phrase.
His colours glorify their subject.
Just as a poem is not made of ideas or of words, so Xenos’ colours start from the subject of the work to become the very semblance which obliges us seek its existence outside the work, in our memory, in nature, anywhere but in the events imaged.
Nor of course must we look for nature or sentiment in his colours.
We must recognize the artist’s colours as the Esse of the constituent material of his figurative composition, which floods it with uniqueness.
Thus the artist’s work itself deprives the spectator of the capacity to
describe its colour, its technique, its morphology.
These remains the lurking danger of a relapse into something else, something ordinary, something commonplace.
The work of Yiorgos Xenos must be placed in that category of modern art which serves not man but the gods, who, having still not perfected man and his world, have yet given them a voice to speak with.