Playing with the Light - A Dream
During my college years, a concert themed “Central Park in the Dark” remained in my memory. The orchestra, divided in two, played two different pieces at the same time.
One was the sounds of the night life in the city, as heard in the park: the noise from the car horns and the brakes on the tarmac mixed with the conversations and the laughter of the passers-by and the night singing of birds in the trees.
The other was a light musical piece from the program performed by the same orchestra in the park.
The result was unique. The music floated into the music, the first piece coexisting harmonically with the second and blending together so as to offer a whole new experience to the audience. Art and reality were dancing a wonderful dance together and the music had “found its fair and sweet moment”.
Later on, when I saw the visual world of Nikos Michalitsianos, I remembered that concert in Edinburgh.
In the artist’s work, the space breaks in two and leads the viewer to a brilliant game of pictorial levels, where painting paints itself and the first visual space penetrates into the other. The expressionistic and figurative float in parallel, strengthening one another and luring the viewer into a never ending game with the painting recreating itself, falling back and getting lost into the picture.
There’s a very strong element in the works of Michalitsianos; the light. The light, like a deus ex machina, some times reveals while other times hides the proceedings, thus intensifying the sense of the theatrical.
The artist paints the painting all over again and, while setting his stage, often uses two sources of light with different speeds. The first source spreads out, accelerating the velocity of movement and the musicality within the space; the other fells like a spotlight on the human figure in order to convey the static theatricality of the painted image.
The game between the real light which is allocated for the model and the imaginary light meant for the space tightens the composition, liberates the action and captivates the eye. At the same time, the spiritual quality of the light generates wonderful colors, generously given to the viewer.
The musicality of light in the works of Michalitsianos holds all the knowledge and the respect for the artistic tradition. It is the catalyst which binds seemingly incongruous elements harmonically together, and the apocalyptic element that topples the status quo.
In Michalitsianos’s works, the world of dreams serves as a point of departure. It is a source of inspiration and challenge, a space of constant quest, arduous research and experimentation.
The transfer of the fragile nature of dream to the space of the painting always involves the danger of contortion and loss, because in order to preserve its identity when coming in touch with reality, the dream needs a ritualistic approach which has nothing to do with reconstruction.
While carrying the dream onto the canvas, through the difficulties he is met with, the artist is led to a new pictorial journey into the heart of the unconsciousness. There, the space of the dream is characterized by the absolute freedom in expression and the boldness with which he imitates reality in order to mislead and deform it.
Every time Nikos Michalitsianos takes us to a journey into the world of dreams, proportions, in the conventional sense, are revoked, since distances, dimensions and the time are not amenable to ordinary laws. The unpredictable predominates because everything is permitted. The familiar order of things is curbed and mocked. Each and every element is borrowed from reality, yet in their dream-like reconstruction they create new macrocosms which obey their own momentary rules.
Using bold strokes, the creator seeks to learn from the dream, becoming one with it, and so the artist and the unconsciousness return expressionistically to reality, having traveled and lived the artistic experience together.
Now, on the canvas, one doesn’t find the narrative reproduction of a dream but the dream’s space and the dream’s drama within the human memory and the dream’s distance from reality.
The composition gets through to the dream by shattering the reality, interfering with the conventional dimensions of the landscapes, figures and objects. The dream registers epigrammatically in its strongest moment when Michalitsianos encages the whole experience in a crescendo of the moment.
In some compositions, the background space ceases to stand behind the human form and play a secondary role. As an integral part of the human existence, the reality of space, with a sudden show of force, takes center stage and, passing symbolically in the front, deforms and extinguishes the human figure.
This is the moment when the human realizes that he/she is nothing more than his/her space. A small piece of this space, as a matter of fact, with which he/she dreams, travels, lives and gets by, by which he/she is defined and something he/she seeks when it is lost.
Space as memory, freedom and yearning, encompasses the whole drama of human mortality in the struggle with life and death. The human is left to his elimination from space and the artist follows his tracks.