A HELL WITH THE FEATURES OF HEAVENManos Stefanidis,x-Curator of the National Gallery
A HELL WITH THE FEATURES OF HEAVEN
In Kostis Georgiou’s work surprise is the status quo and bombshells lurk around every corner. At a time of crisis in painting, Georgiou's painting provides fairy-tales and delight to anyone who is able to meet its challenges, in other words, anyone able to contemplate it deeply.
I often state that every painting is a visual text that provides a biography of its painter. In the present case we have the exceptionally successful phenomenon where, at the same time, there is an autobiography written of the conscientious and sensitised viewer. In order to achieve a wordless dialogue that brings together things distant.
Kostis Georgiou’s now mature work balances delicately between drama and grotesque, caricature and epic, power and tenderness, cynicism and melancholy. Each painting is thus rendered into a self-sufficient world, which includes all the sins and virtues of the real world but also something more: catharsis and the possibility of redemption. Which means that in an age of crisis for painting, painting itself, as the supreme art of images or, as Lacan would have put it, the sole transcendental signifier, can still support concepts and values that concern human civilisation. All the rest are communications alchemies.
Who are his protagonists in this instance? Are they gladiators; explorers; critical businessmen; women suffering from folie de grandeur; desperate, unhappy people; animals; mixed species still seeking legitimisation? Are they next-door figures or the kind that bear our future in order to punish us?
Georgiou composes his impressive enigmas in a robust fashion, taking advantage of dramatic contrasts of chiaroscuro or unexpected contrasts between reds and greens. There are islands of blue that demand silence and reservoirs of black that command submission. Death is present, but, surprise, surprise, frightens nobody. This happens with art. Don Giovanni always defies the Commandant in the name of all the rest.
In life, death is a punishment. In art, death is the most honoured form of life. In Kostis Georgiou’s painting minute details of form function in such a manner that even hell has some features of heaven!