The figures that adorn Apostolos Chantzaras’s art are somehow familiar. We have come across precursory forms of his figures in well known ancient Greek artworks that decorate museums all around the world.
From the motif of the butterfly, which, for the Greeks, symbolizes eternally the soul (psyche), the sense of the nonperishable and the human spirit beyond death, from antiquity till contemporary folk doctrines, to the Sirens*, known from the Odyssey for their seductive voice, whose name we still use today to declare the seduction that keeps its secret dangers hidden; they are all transformed through Chantzaras’s paintbrush into a contemporary pop – and therefore comprehensive and legible from the western world- version of ancient symbols.
Which is the element that connects the contemporary figures present in Chantzaras’s paintings with the ancient symbols? Perhaps the answer exists in a decisive element that is nothing more than the light, the absolute, white, clear light which- in places like Greece and Los Angeles- becomes harsh and relentless with the colours, and seems as if it cuts off the outlines. Therefore, the light confines the painter’s palette to the colours of white, black, red, and imposes, finally, the simplicity and the essence of painting with no verbosity.
*Odyssey, v. 37-65
“First you will come to the Sirens
who enchant all who come near them.
If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again,
for they sit in a green field and
warble him to death with the sweetness of their song.
There is a great heap of dead men’s bones lying all around,
with the flesh still rotting off them.
Therefore pass these Sirens by,
and stop your men’s ears with wax that none of them may hear;
but if you like you can listen yourself,
for you may get the men to bind you
as you stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast,
and they must lash the rope’s ends to the mast itself,
that you may have the pleasure of listening.
If you beg and pray the men to unloose you,
then they must bind you faster.”
Alexandra Tranta, Archaeologist – Museologist