CULTURE

Creative new 2004 stamps from Tsoklis

Costas Tsoklis pleasantly surprised fans of philately with his first creative effort in the Greek Postal Sevice’s (ELTA) revamped stamp series. The new Olympic Series, «Olympic Sports Equipment,» which the renowned Greek artist designed, has turned out to be one of the most popular in the series, due to its refreshing modern style. Free of any references to the ideological and patriotic nature of the 2004 Athens Games, Tsoklis takes a bold step toward a universal (and ultimately personal) interpretation of his subject. «I didn’t see these forms, such as the shot or the hammer, for instance, as sports equipment, but as perfect, independent shapes which were offered to me,» said the artist in an interview with ELTA’s magazine Epistoli. «Eventually, their use in sports simply became a pretext. I saw them through the eyes of a contemporary painter, not those of an illustrator. I chose shapes and colors, light and shadow. I chose how to place them in a space.» The austerity and clarity of the series are informed by a deeply aesthetic culture, which, unfortunately, is not always present in ELTA’s various stamp collections. Tsoklis’s six stamps reflect the full potential of Greek philately, which has certainly not reached its desired maturity yet, though the basic foundations have been laid during this pre-Olympic phase. In this spirit of collaboration, other artists, including Dimitris Mytaras and Alekos Fasianos, among others, have also created their own series. Coming up are stamps by other artists, such as Yiannis Moralis, Dimitris Nalbantis (whose talent extends to stamp designing) and Mina Valyraki, while Fasianos will be back with a stunning new series that will be unveiled on November 28.