Michael Odysseus Yakoumakis: Artist's Statement
Epigramatically, I do symbolist, figurative, anthropocentric art.
Regarding the technique, my painting method is a combination of traditional and modern approaches:
To compose a painting, I treat it as a theatrical play, limited to narrate a story within one scene, played by wordless, motionless, however expressive actors.
First, guising as the “play write”, I create a rough draft drawing of the painting to be, the “scenario”, so to say.
Next, as the “theatrical director”, I choose my “actors”, that is the models to pose for the characters (human or not) to be displayed in the painting: They can be live persons, figures I mold in plasticine, or imaginary figures “conjured” on paper. I draw several studies for my characters and I scan them all into a computer.
Then, as the “scenographer”, I design the “stage”, the painting's background. Initially I invent it on the drawing board using linear perspective. Afterwards I redraw it freely and scan it in the computer.
Finally, as the “scene director”, in the computer, I keep rearranging, in front of the scanned background drawing, the previously scanned character drawings, choosing some, discarding the rest, searching for each character's optimal, expression, stance, and spatial relation to the other characters and to the background.
A final overall study becomes thus roughly ready and I refine it, by redrawing it freely with charcoal on paper and taking into account the shadow–light interplay. Afterwards, I photograph or scan it in the computer, in order to produce its print in the dimensions of the painting to be, and I copy the print on a prepared canvas using carbon–paper. At last, I paint it with oil-colors, using the traditional renaissance method: First the entire synthesis with monochromatic shades (usually of sepia, ocher, or gray) on which I then apply several layers of semitransparent color oil–pigment.
Regarding the content, I express my everyday experiences in terms of symbolic, personal myths, with protagonists stereotypical characters, either social conformities or charming social nonconformities, depicted as common humans or as entities from mythology, fairytale and folklore, suggesting a view of reality through childhood's eyes.
Through my paintings I comment on our epoch, which I perceive as the twilight of our Western Civilization and to which I correspond with social and political awareness and criticism.
Questioning and satirizing our collapsing civilization through the use of Art, is for me a viable means to understand it in its extreme complexity, and to finally survive it.
Regarding the manner, as conscious references in my oeuvre I can mention El Greco, Grunewald, Bosch, Goya, Dix, Rivera, de Lempicka and Balthus. However, as Antonio Basoli stated, “Originality in Art is one's ability to combine the formalistic achievements of one's predecessors in a new, original way, obtaining thus new, original forms”. That, is exactly what I am trying to do: add my distinctly own , no matter how infinitesimally small, contribution in the exploration of the continuous and endless path of Art, taken up by Humanity since its origins.