The Triumph of Logic

June 2, 2022July 2, 2022

After 13 years of a fruitful career in the international art scene, Stelios Faitakis presents in Athens a selection of his art produced in recent years. From the series of four monumental works entitled “Fortunately, Absurdity is Lost”, which he showed in Turin in 2014 in the evocative Palazzo Cavour, curated by Maurizio Cattelan, to “Mandala”, the new series he presented last year at the International Art Exhibition hosted in Hainan, China. His “return” to Athens is marked by a new series of ten large-scale works and twelve works on paper.

In this moment in time when the shadow of war threatens us with nuclear annihilation, the “mind of the painter” conjures up figures such as Nietzsche and the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli. In his familiar artistic style - neo-Byzantine modernism that converges with contemporary iconographic references - the artist attempts a poignant commentary on the times. His work is a narrative, but he does not depict historical events. He is not interested in the historical accuracy of an event, but rather in the study of History from which one can interpret the present. “Reason is a tool for interpreting the world, but it is limited”, he believes, arguing that “man possesses perceptual abilities and mechanisms that surpass reason”.  

The turmoil of war is captured in the work by the same name as well as in “Mandala”, a new series of compositions that draw on the art of Tibet and Japan. Missiles gyrate in a world that oscillates between progress and self-destruction. Faitakis draws inspiration from iconographic tradition to set up an “unorthodox” place of worship in Ziller’s neoclassical building. It is hailed as an eschatological prophecy, the “resurrection” of the world at the close of a science that is not centered on the human being, but rather on dogmatic “truth”. In his art, the painter does not embellish, nor does he proclaim something beautiful. However, he is convinced that overuse or misuse of technique that is in line with current “reason” will not save the world.  

The large-scale panels have the appropriate breadth for the conceptualizations of the Greek artist and are ideally showcased in the halls of Allouche Benias Gallery. Thanks to the iconic mural “Socrates Drinks the Conium ” that he created for the 1st Athens Biennale in '07, he became well known to the general public and since then he has charted a course that has brought him to international art events. In 2012, he participated in the first Kyiv Biennial, while in 2016, the famous “Palais de Tokyo” museum in Paris commissioned a permanent mural depicting the French student uprising of May '68. The New York Times, the Guardian, and numerous international media have written about his oeuvre, and his work has been featured on the cover of the supplement magazine of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. 

The collaboration between Faitakis and the curator Katerina Gregos played a decisive role in this journey. In 2011, at the Venice Biennale, as the person in charge of representing Denmark, she included a monumental installation by the Greek artist in the Danish exhibit, paving the way for his international career, while they collaborated again in Riga, Latvia, in 2018, when she was at the helm of the event. Among others, the Director of EMST has written: “Faitakis managed to devise - from a completely modern perspective - his own personal artistic idiom, infusing traditional figurative painting with a pictorial vein and a political point of view”. 

Stelios Faitakis (born 1976) started out as a graffiti artist, passed through the Athens School of Fine Arts and Rena Papaspyrou's studio, and since then has combined Byzantine hagiography and the Cretan School with the political message of Mexican muralistas, such as Diego Rivera or José Clemente Orozco. This is his fifth solo exhibition after the tribute exhibition in Paris (2018).