The second you enter the Athens Art Gallery in Kolonaki you realize that in the case of Christos Kalfas, painting takes on a homecoming dimension. The artist, who has been living in France since the 1970s, is currently showing a collection of his works at the downtown gallery. Titled ?L?Adoption des orphelins de Medee? (The Adoption of Medea?s Orphans), the show reflects how mythology has served as a steady companion and a source of inspiration for the artist for decades and is a constant point of reference as far as his country of origin is concerned.
?I have been interested in history and mythology since my school years,? the artist told Kathimerini. ?When I moved to France I started looking at these fields of interest, which are very dear to me, in a new light. What?s more, the French are highly passionate when it comes to ancient Greece and analyze myths through another prism. Let me explain this: While Greeks take these myths for granted, consider them commonplace and almost part of their daily routine, the French tie them to a voyage which takes them straight into the past, a journey of unfading beauty. As far as I?m concerned, mythology brings me into contact with the homeland I left behind; it gives me access to a world which is full of knowledge, feelings and images. Centaurs and other mythological characters challenge us, they wake us up and remind us there are certain truths that are transmitted via myths, the kind of truths which might enable us to understand the real world a little bit better.?
Mythology is not the only font of creative inspiration for the artist. For a number of years now, Kalfas has excluded the use of chemical materials in his works.
?I worked very hard in order to locate materials which were natural, ingredients which were used by artists in the past,? he noted. He did, however, make an exception in the ?L?Adoption? series, by using a special kind of varnish based on resin which gives the works a special glow.
Why did Kalfas work on the myth of Medea?
?I feel that we, as people, often kill our ideas, in the same way that she killed her children. We don?t stand by them, but instead we betray them. All of this made me think about how part of human behavior is based precisely on this kind of betrayal. Plenty of wrong decisions taken during the course of our lives have to do with the fact that we turned our backs on an idea, on an impression, on a thought that crossed our minds but we erased,? said the artist.
Though Kalfas has been living abroad for years, he is not out of touch with developments in his native country.
?Not only do I visit often, but I believe that the distance gives me the luxury of acute observation. I try to show my works here in order to have a lively relationship with Greek art lovers, to feel their needs and listen to what they have to say.?
Athens Art Gallery, 4 Glykonos, Kolonaki, tel 210.721.3938. To April 30.