Vangelis Gokas presents his new solo exhibition including pieces of the last two years; mostly small size paintings on wood or fabric. Avoiding the grandiosity, –which evolves around form, style, subject-, that the art of painting has largely been associated to in the past, the artist has chosen to comment on himself as a painter. What does it truly mean to paint today, when the images we carry within, speak the language of daily life, rather than that of aesthetics?
Numerous small portraits, the size of a matchbox, seek a close viewing, unlike the one the audience today has been accustomed to. They are about individuals, alive, or not anymore, unknown or famous ones, with whom Gokas has, or has had an essential or occasional relationship, people that captured his gaze or his mind, for long, or for a mere moment, that either influenced him, or were themselves influenced by him, deliberately or not. We recognise writers, visual artists, politicians, actors, yet we also encounter other figures, unknown to us, or entirely fictional. In between, abstract forms, or images of object serve as parenthetic links. The miniscule size and the similar to a toddler’s toy form, help waive the extreme severity of the portraits, any references to the history of art, personality cult hints or narcissistic dimensions of the subject. It’s all about those subtle memories in one’s mind, that like fibres, weave rational or associative narrations. These small bricks can be repositioned at will, like the thoughts in the course of a day.
In his larger scale works, human figures emerge in their entirety or fragmentary, fade away in the misty grey, or are absent from any landscape – still life compositions. The traditional values of painting are present throughout synthesis, colour and topics. One can perceive visual allusions to the Great Masters. The sense of familiarity deriving from this recognition, is undermined by unexpected associations and an imperceptible intensity. Are these figures dancing or are they spreading terror? Do these photography allusions intend to be perceived, or to rather descend into the daily life-reality zone?
Competing with superior cultural values in a world of visual outburst, flooded with portraits captured within a digital camera’s split second, is the beginning of an unequal fight. Yet, for “one should not insult a crocodile before crossing the river”, Gokas makes sure to overturn, with a truly childlike, light intention, the terms of this showdown.
Vangelis Gokas was born in Korinthos, Greece in 1969. He holds a BA in Fine Arts from the Aristotle University of Thesaloniki, Greece and two Masters degrees in Fine Arts from the Athens School of Fine Arts and the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, Spain. To date he has had nine solo exhibitions and has participated in numerous group shows both in Greece and abroad including National Museum of China, Beijing, Athens Biennale, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Benaki Museum and The Kosova Art Gallery, Kosovo. Works of his form part of important private and museum collections such as Van AbbeMuseum in Eindhoven, and others. Gokas is currently assistant professor at the School of Plastic Arts of Ioannina, Greece.