Apparently, Ianni Nikou's Painting is tuned to the wavelength of Historic Surrealism. On one hand, his themes are an epic synthesis on Gods and Fiends, a sacrament through which ourselves, as an audience, are initiated-and finally entagled-into the strange world of the Subconscious: Mythology, ancient archetypes, witchcraft or metaphysical insight are called for, and generate more and new pictures into our minds. As well, their monumental size and the intensity of the allegoric message passed on to us, help us to connect Nikou's work to the principles of Science Fiction. This is one even more eccentric way possessed by the painter to carry us away, along with his own fleet into the secrets of this traveling spirit. On the other hand, from a strictly historical point of view, his work could be placed on the threshold, the minute and rarely captured transitional instant in the History of Art, when the "Neoclassic" expression was fading away into the "Romantic" style. And indeed, it may not at all be due to chance, that the implicated "narrative" behind each and every one of this paintings is built on the "Romantic" part of the myth; the descent to Ade, Death and Resurrection, Darkness and Light; all Nikou's themes have been derived from the same repertoire, the one of the major and oldest ventures of Human Spirit. Eventually, what we witness in Ianni Nikou's work is miraculous; his brush seems to capture on canvas the "eternal moment"; the preciousness and uniqueness of a particular moment in history, and at the same time, the glitter of Eternity within its limits. This rare and exceptional quality, makes his works claim their place as relics in many museums; a quality that seemed to be for ever more erased on the map of contemporary painting... Giuliano Serafini, Art Historian and Critic – Italy Article in the Monthly Art Review "Terzo Occhio"- Florence
Analyzing Iannis Nikou's work, we witness, even in paintings of different periods, an identical concept of mystery, solitude and astonishment derived from "an other world". The Greek artist's symbolic code does not coincide in all aspects with the typical symbolism of historical surrealism. Nikou's personal, so to say, code, is more expanded and his cultural constants are obviously older and more classical. In fact, in Nikou's work we find the happy coexistance of classicism together with the surrealistic imagination, materialized through techniques of different origin; all this performed in drawing of high quality and exalted colour, which compose characteristic elements of the school of magic realism... Indeed, by the means of his classical cultural background, Nikou is recreating images of violent muscularity, Bacchanal energy and eroticism, transforming them into visions of crystalline beauty and serenity. Therefore, taking into consideration the amazing variety of Nikou's subjects, and his particular compositions which are fully of symbolic correlation, we can compare him to an other Greek creator; Lucian, the ancient author who in his book "A true story" is describing a planet of dreams, where everyone could choose a dream corresponding with his own mentality and personality... As compared with this ancient merchant of dreams, Iannis Nikou is eventually suggesting a personal utopia, daring and universal; the creation - through his paintings - of dreams common for all of us, in the name of Art...Mauro Bocci, Art Historian - Italy Article in the Newspaper "Il Secolo XIX" June 1987, Genoa.
annis Nikou's work is unique. By this statement, I mean that in contemporary art, when the so called "originality" and "improrivisation" have displaced skill, study and the narrative element, Nikou is persisting in creating monumental paintings, both in dimension and in composition. In Nikous paintings the spectator can read stories of epic character and vivid sensations. The painter is using a visual, rich of philosophical and psychological symbols code, appealing to our subconscious, so to make us participate in his own "world". All the above, speaking from the technical point of view, is achieved by the impeccable use of drawing with pencil and by, the material he prefers most, the oil colour. The sources of Nikou's inexhaustible inspiration can be traced in literature,science fiction, opera, history; as well as in cinema or in comics. His male figures are saints or monsters; his female characters, either beautiful or ugly, are always Sirens, Harpies or Sphinxes, erotic but at the same time menacing and forbidden. His heroes are coming from the past and from a spatial future; creatures of another world, together with knights in their quest for the Holly Grail, winged horses, demons and angels... Iannis Nikou is definitely representing the present in Contemporary Art.Art Critic by D.Pantelidis, Historian of Art - Journalist "Gallery Guide",1998, Athens
...Powerful, dynamic, fully worthy of a master painter's touch on canvas, Ianni Nikou's ability in artistic design is absolutely stunning... In his pencil drawings, his graphic, infinitely vigorous and musical, implies the "presence" of many more colours than the obvious two, black and white. What is truly amazing, is that Nikou never does use the advantage of a first rough draft. On the contrary, his pencil drawings emerge as self - existent from the very first moment.
This same, incomparable mastery of technical background is clearly apparent in his oil paintings on canvas as well; color is the dominant force in plotting the dynamic structure of each one of this syntheses. Moreover, his sense and choice of "color" is found in harmony with absolutely any kind of theme, whether this might be derived from the Greek Mythology, or by the "Apocalypse" of St. John.
And indeed, Ianni Nikou's works are highly indicative of one of the most resourceful of imaginations. By means of a purely metaphysical code, which is his personal vehicle for artistic creation, the painter achieves to make an implicative allusion to the corporate structure of human beliefs, fears and fantasies that has survived along with Mankind, from ancient times up to the present day.
Owing to this ingeniously unique use of dynamic structure and color, Iannis Nikou, in each one of his masterpieces manages to entangle us into the plot of a fully performed drama, without us needing the assistance of any sort of narrative part.
And it is at this point, when it might be very well justified to say, that Iannis Nikou has so immensely sharpened his tools of metaphysical vision, that the quality of his work has reached its peak.By Dora Heliopoulou - Rogan, Phd History of Art, Art - Critic Art Critique on the occasion of Ianni Nikou's personal exhibition (October 1998) "ARGO" Gallery, Athens
Iannis Nikou is a many-sided personality with a penetrating mind and a wind encyclopedic education. He graduated from the Higher School of Fine Arts in Athens and studied acting and stage direction in the Athens School of Theatre and Cinema. Concurrently he was also studying guitar and mosaic. In Genoa, Italy, where he lived for some years, he studied photography as well. Despite the numerous opportunities offered him for a successful career abroad, he was always attracted to Greece. In 1991, he settled permanently in an idyllic estate in Macedonia near the city of Drama, where, in a super-modern studio, he is wholeheartedly dedicated to painting. It is not accidental that, as fervent patriot, the inspiring and inexhaustible source of Greek history proved the motive power behind the epic and prolific oeuvre of Iannis Nikou. In general, his paintings, mostly oil on canvas, usually of great dimensions, abound with historic references drawn from the broad spectrum of Greek civilization. Among his most remarkable and breathtaking creations, are the huge allegories that recapture vividly and convincingly some of the glorious moments of our history, such as "Alexander the Great in Gavgamila", "Thermopylae" and the two great paintings, "The naval battle of Artemision" and "The Fall of Constantinople", presented in this exhibition. These canvases instantly impress and captivate the viewer with the extraordinary artistry and mastery of their compositions. His work, rich in didactic content and expressed by a fine-drawn expressionism, appeals directly by its thematic wealth conceived through a profound personal vision. The artist's subject matters are expanding on various periods that he refers to as "cycles" of his work, such as Greek Mythology and Ancient History, Byzantine-Middle Ages, including Biblical sources, especially The Revelation of St. John, as well as the Allegoric-Paganistic Cycle and the Romantic Cycle. The fury of World War II literally devastated Greece from end to end. Nevertheless, while the traces of the terrible catastrophe still lay littered all around us, we discern with admiration and surprise Greek art, like a Phoenix rising from its ashes, rally and recover in no time, entering a period of astounding flourish. New ideas, new forces, new initiatives, mark this post-war period, confirming the popular belief that Greece never really dies. The epic work of Iannis Nikou fully confirms this conviction. I recall the well known English historian Arnold Toynbee once telling me that civilization constitutes a current, a movement and not a permanent condition. It is not a harbour, but rather a long journey. This flow, however, this movement, this journey, requires constant enrichment in order to survive. And its survival is mainly sustained by the bountiful contribution of art. This was also the point Melina Merkouri always made, by asserting that the heavy industry of a nation nowadays is not its factories, but its art and civilization. In this sense, the multiple and essential artistic input of Iannis Nikou to Greek civilization is remarkable and unique. In general it can be said that the entire dynamic and diversified expressive power of Iannis Nikou reveals almost like in a cinematic reel, a tragic and tormented humanity, violently chained to an inexorable destiny where everything is at stake in a relentless battle between death and survival. It is of interest to note that in his latest works, the artist expands this merciless human destiny so as to also include dramatic events of our times, such as the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001. The inexhaustible imagination of the artist also serves as an enticement to a gentle initiation to an infernal world of mystery that hovers between Heaven and Hell. Iannis Nikou is also a master of design. The impressive aesthetic success of his major canvases is due to the fact that all of them, as he himself reveals, are based upon a previously carefully executed design that secures the harmonic balance of the different entities into a well-appointed whole, revealing thus the artistic dexterity of a multi-dimensional and ingenious creator. The careful design of his creations also solves the difficulty of balancing the coexistence of a microcosm with a macrocosm in his multi-dimensional compositions.
It has been said that "it is certain that those who refer themselves to History will be heard and judged by History itself". I am certain that History has already judged and recognized the imposing out put of Iannis Nikou, who has proved himself a true Greek of our times. His artistic prowess is indissolubly tied, body and soul, to our history and civilization. As a consequence, the entity of his work is permeated by a refined spirit of Hellenism,that establishes him as the unquestionable artistic historian of our area, a real contemporary Thucydides. And just as this world-famous historian once declared, art requires a great deal of courage, physical, physiological, sentimental and above all an unshakable self-confidence. Iannis Nikou has already fully proven that he possesses abundant artistic power, not only for the present but for the future as well. For it is absolutely evident, that the innovative work of this epic artistic will easily survive time and memory.Ian Vorres on Iannis Nikou, President and founder of the “ Vorres Museum”- Athens ,Greece
“…Iannis Nikou was worn probably in the early part of the 16th century, somewhere in northern Italy. As it is, Nikou is a contemporary painter immersed in an ongoing reinterpretation of classical mythology and, to a lesser extent, biblical iconography. He shares with his historical prodecessors a Gravura technique and a predilection for a natural environment that is sumptuous and luxuriant…
Iannis Nikou is obviously one of the well known triumvirate of Renaissance revivalists that includes Jonathan Norths and Jack Beal…”G.S. Marcou, President of the Hellenic Museum “ Nobel ” – Historian of Art, RAI ( Italy ) 12/9/86
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