An Athenian “neo-muralist” mixes Greek mythology and Byzantine iconography with graffiti and street art to describe how the coronavirus forced people around the world to take root.
From Bangkok to Rabat to Zurich, Fikos has painted the walls of many cities, but now he adds a touch of color to the sun-drenched facades of the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
“Here in Cyprus there aren’t many murals yet,” he says. “This is the start-up phase of the street art scene in Cyprus, so… they are in awe and a little amazed when they see this happen. “
The 33-year-old spends time wandering the narrow alleys of Nicosia’s Old Town looking for walls to use as a canvas.
The one he chose for his latest project is the cracked veneer of a crumbling mud brick house in abandoned, dusty land near the UN-guarded buffer zone that separates the city’s Greek and Turkish halves.
The Greek artist, who describes himself as a ‘neo-muralist’, says he has lived on the Mediterranean island for a year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a theme reflected in his latest piece.
Standing on a wobbly platform, he goes to work with a brushstroke along the forehead of Amaracus, the perfumer of the mythical goddess Aphrodite, whose fate he says is suitable for life in the time of the coronavirus.
# photo1 Little by little, a sketch evolves into a jade green male figure with leaves growing from his head, branches protruding from his chest, and roots extending from his legs.
“He was punished by the gods and turned into a plant or a flower,” says Fikos, who explains that he used the story of Cypriot mythology as an analogy for the pandemic, during which people ” have taken root ”by staying in one place for so long.
– Stigma –
Fikos says Cypriots have embraced his artwork, unlike others who tend to attach graffiti stigma to it.
His works now adorn five facades on the Greek Cypriot side of Nicosia, which has been divided along ethnic lines since community unrest erupted in 1963-1964.
# photo2Fikos says he draws on a diverse palette of influences, from the art of ancient Greece to Egypt and Japan. One of these works of art is located near the green line that divides Nicosia.
It shows King Onassagoras, who ruled the kingdom of Ledra around 672 BC. AD, next to three female figures, one of which is Nicosia, represented as a woman divided in two.
“I have studied Byzantine painting since I was 13 in Athens, and I studied street art in the streets,” says Fikos.
“Street art has evolved from graffiti and it has different rules. You have to leave your mark, ”he says.
“But my point of view is totally different. I always try to adapt my sketch to the environment and to be inspired by the colors of the neighborhood. My approach is more like the fine art, I would say. “
– Mythology continues –
Fikos says that in the past he failed to convince Athenians to let him paint over the garish graffiti that covers the city, even for free.
But now his appeal is growing both at home and abroad, and he is being paid for his work.
Fikos says he has been commissioned to paint murals in many countries, including France, Ireland, Mexico, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.
They can cover entire facades of buildings up to 17 floors, like the one in Kiev, but they are not overbearing and do not appear out of place.
“Most of the time they have something in mind, they give me a theme,” Fikos says of his orders.
“But… I do my research on history, mythology, or whatever I find appropriate, then draw and start painting. “
Once the research is done, the process of painting the murals may take only two or three more days, he says.
“I’m mostly inspired by Greek mythology because I hope if these myths have survived they must have something to say. “
© 2021 AFP