Angelos Spartalis
The Image and its Meaning

by Manos Stefanides
Art Historian, Curator, National Gallery of Greece

text also available in Greek


omething is happening in Rhodes. And I do not say this conventionally, much less tourist-wise. The presence, for several years now, of a Municipal Art Gallery of high standards and its recent renovation, and also the creation of new events related to contemporary art 
have contributed to the existence on the emerald island, today, of an indigenous artistic potential which is not provincial or local in the least. I have been watching with increasing interest the actions and exhibitions of MoTeR, the artistic group who activate themselves around art historian Polly Hatzimarkou in the Centre of Contemporary Art, in the Medieval Town of Rhodes.

Among creators whom I have seen personally, I distinguish Angelos Spartalis both for his multileveled search in the field of plastic arts and for the deep spirituality of his approach to his themes (or, I should better say, his obsessions). For what differentiates the artist from the simply pretending-through-art painter is the assiduousness to certain passions, which in some eras are called "values" or "ideals" and in some others "neuroses" or "paranoia" and they are stoned.

But from the stone pile of anathema often the blossom of emotion and the fruit of subversion germinate. What is painting, after all? The face of Narcissus reflected on the surface of the lake, or a descent into darkness like the journey of Orpheus so that through death light can be won? More importantly, how is painting done today? With what material, new or old? And most importantly: what kind of ideas is it summoned to defend?

Angelos Spartalis is a painter and that is why he deals with multimedia as well as the traditional canvas, since, to quote Kounellis' famous phrase, a painter today is he who constructs "meaningfied" images. With whatever means.

Last May the painter, in a solo exhibition in the Centre of Contemporary Art of the Museum of Modern Greek Art and within the frame of MoTeR, showed the "Portraits and Groups", a study on the "childhood" disease of painting which is expressionism. In PNYK-ART he continues with the "Double Portraits", in which he combines mixed techniques (oil and collage) as he also combines humour with a subcutaneous fear. Fear of the faces that escape us, fear of the things we ignore. At times his painting touches the borders of Bad Painting, at other times the artist converses with the History of Art itself (e.g.Velasquez) and elsewhere the form may exhaust itself in its positive-optimistic and negative-macabre versions in a plannedly anarchic fashion (e.g. Double Portrait of a girl in the countryside). Spartalis recently took part in LOOKOUT, an example which shows his interest in an interactive art which would set off the whole of the city's social and architectural tissue, while he also composed a 9-minute cartoon video whose heroes are figures of his painting, as an internal comment on the meaning and emotional charge of the image. The result, extremely stimulating!

Concerning his work, the driving …force of MoTeR, art historian Polly Hatzimarkou -a colleague in the Museum of Modern Greek Art in Rhodes-, writes: "Spartalis, when painting, makes a mess of things and of himself. He is what he paints. He causes an art attack; an attack to the saturated aesthetics of our times…" This is what we want too! An art that is emotional but also extreme, which subverts but also touches. The more significant creation is, the simpler means it needs to be interpreted, and that is because it becomes a language itself. A language that "neither says, nor hides, but means".

Manos Stefanides

3 ×ÉÉ 2003...........

STEFANIDES_DON_QUIXOTEsml.jpg (18766 bytes)...........
"Manos Stefanides as Don Quixote"...........
2004,12x12cm, ink on paper...........


Text translated by Tatiana Stavroulaki
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