Exhibition: November 24th - January 5th
Born in 1976, lives and works in Athens
On a golden background with visible brushstrokes, the paintings of Stelios Faitakis deconstruct architecture, geometric symbols and typography to remix references, from Mexican muralism to Dürer, through Byzantine icons and the heritage of graffiti. Though Faitakis received academic training at the Athens School of Fine Art, it was in the street that he imposed himself at the heart of the nascent graffiti scene in Athens in the mid-1990s.
Now a studio painter, his deconsecrated icons depict blazing halos, Palestinian resistance fighters, riots, the excesses of capitalism, scattered across landscapes where businessmen are strung up. His painting stretches past and present times often working from historical archives or news items, in his references we can recognize press images that make fragments of very current affairs jump out in his compositions, but decontextualized. For this exhibition Stelios Faitakis presents a painting that depicts in a very large format the gaudy, show-off debauchery of a golden youth, between cocaine, champagne fountains, bodybuilding, selfies, suits and upmarket prostitution.
“To define my paintings I refer to the idea of a ‘religious painting’, I try to talk about spiritual subjects. I’m convinced that by taking an interest in these, I’m also simultaneously evoking what’s happening in the world. People often refer to ‘political art’ when talking about my work, which I find strange and sometimes even amusing. When I use political and social references, it’s always at a superficial level. I wouldn’t paint if it were only a question of talking about these subjects that give a too-obvious vision of the world. (...) I’ve spent a lot of time in the street, so I’ve witnessed what happens there. I’ve often found myself at the forefront, on the ground, to see with my own eyes the reality of events. This is no longer the case today: I now paint by isolating myself in my studio, in my world, with my materials.”
Text by Hugo Vitrani