REVIEWS

THE LANDSCAPES OF STAVROS KOTSIREAS

Article text
Blues Islands
THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL TO THE LOST PARADISE
Stavros Kotsireas zealously cultivates a form of landscape painting of romantic origin. "The landscape is an inner state," this definition of romantic landscape painting suitably describes his paintings. Paintings charged with emotion, paintings emerging from memory and nostalgia, shivering paintings kindled by the flame of a poetic imagination.

Stavros Kotsireas' painting urges us to return to Aristotle's concept of the lost paradise of a sensual art. Pleasure as a basic element of the aesthetic experience had no place in the aesthetic of modernism. Thus arose the break from post-modern circumstance, its religious intolerance, its forbearance, as the artists, especially the young, defied the "prohibitions," fell in love with their canvases, and called the viewers to fall in love with art and dream with them.

The gazing, the contemplation, which so characterizes romanticism, not as a movement but as a mood, as a ceaseless aesthetic category, seems to be the creative motive of Kotsireas. The same emotion is conveyed by his compositions. One may observe this in his exhibition catalogs where the young artist is photographed in front of his landscapes with his back turned towards the viewer. This is reminiscent of the work of G.D.Friedrich (1774-1840) the most significant artist of the German romanticism movement, who similarly placed the viewer of his boundless landscapes.

Romanticism as a mood and aesthetic category is placed in the expressionist movements of our century. Stavros Kotsireas has a selective relationship with elements of this movement and seems to draw particularly from the French Fauvism (1905) and the German movement of ‘Galazios Kavalaris’ (Blue Rider, 1911-1912). More specifically, with two representatives of the latter, of A. Macke (1887-1914) and F. Marc (1880-1916). Some of the ideological features and some elements of the forms of Blue Rider are evident in the work of the young artist; the inner compassion, the communion, which saturates nature's picture with the artist's feeling and unifies them with a lasting bond, which reaches even the viewer of the work. The pursuit of the secret harmony, which according to the theory of 'Blue Rider', is innate within nature, the melodious rhythms, suggested by the musical bond of the curved shapes of the compositions are reminiscent of Marc's sense of rhythm. The sense of rhythm which is the most obvious element of Kotsireas' artistic poetry is evident from the long melodies of the shapes and from the liquidity of his brushstroke. A cluster of trees, a group of dotted lights in the dark background, dark spots on a pale background, suddenly introduce an intense, contracted, repetitive rhythm within these long-lasting melodies. Then the painter's personal style erases all memories of the ancestors and the past influences.

Following the traditions of Post Modernism, the compositions of Stavros Kotsireas are developed vertically. The horizon is pushed upwards to the top border of the painting, while the perception of depth is reversed by the intensity of the colour. The young painter loves the powerful chromatic forms where the dialogue between the warm earthly colours and the cold blues is predominant.

Kotsireas' paintings should be viewed as part of the atmosphere and the aesthetics of Post-Modernism. Unrestrained play, a decorative quality, a voluntary ‘naiveté,’ which is reminiscent of children's painting, place the work of the young artist at the end of the century and with strong connections to contemporary British Painting, for example with the latest landscapes of David Hockney (1937). However, the lyric emotion that his pictures emit is totally his own conquest. Moreover, Kotsireas is a poet as well and allows us to read his verses alongside his paintings in his many catalogs. We see his poetry too in the emotive titles of his work: "Tis dipsas Apoctyfo fos" (Thirsty Apocryphal Light), "Mistiki Paralia", (Secret Beach), "Mirodies apo Liakada" (Scents of Sunshine), "Ametres Anases" (Boundless Breathes), "Metaxoto tis Imeras" (Silk of the Day.)

An artist who loves the intense contrast of colour, powerful shapes, the melodies of the line, could not be indifferent in the allure of black and white, and indeed the drawings, ink sketches and engravings of Stavros Kotsireas are extraordinary. His scrip elliptical and spirited, his composition supported by a few powerful elements, where the dominant theme is the contrast between black and white. The dialogue between the ink spots, the linear games and the gray shades between, collectively present a very expression of the artist's world.

Powerful colour, lyric emotion, return us to the Aristotelian pursuit of sensual pleasure; these are the gifts that the young artist brings to the landscape of modern Greek Art, where he entered impetuously, with a lively passion, and optimism. This optimism is what we need to face the unexplored and challenging new century. I therefore congratulate ALPHA for their choice of this artistic expression of the joy of life for this very special millennium diary.

(Millennium diary 2000, ALPHA Satellite Television, Greece.)
May 1999, Athens, Greece

Marina Lampraki-Plaka
Professor of History of Art
Director of the National Gallery, Greece.