Thirty years of painting in a monograph

In his recent solo exhibition at the Nees Morfes gallery, the painter Yiannis Adamakos presented a series of abstract compositions that looked like nighttime landscapes as seen from far away or like the dark waters of the sea with the lights of ships glowing in the distance. Covered in hues of gray with dabs of white or pastel colors emerging behind a grayish veil, the paintings have a radiance and transparency that is rarely foundly in muted colors. The artist’s work shows his wonderful skill in handling color, depicting light and capturing the feeling of vast, open spaces. Combined with the expressionist, abstract style that Yiannis Adamakos is known for, these elements are at the heart of his work. This is the sense that one has when leafing through the pages of «Yiannis Adamakos: Painting 1977-2007,» a monograph recently published by Agra Editions and one of the few published of late on Greek art. In the book, the artist’s work is structured chronologically and according to the thematic series that Adamakos has worked on at different periods. Two essays, by Takis Mavrotas and Christos Boulotis, introduce the reader to the artist’s work. There follow more than 150 pages of illustrated works. A short biography is included at the end. Yiannis Adamakos, now in his mid-50s, is known as one of the Greek neo-expressionist painters who first made their presence felt during the 1980s, when neo-expressionism dominated not just in Greece but internationally as well. «Corpus,» the title of a series of early works, comprises abstract, dramatic compositions depicting the human body. «Centaurs,» the next series, continues the dramatic, expressionist style of the earlier works. Some of the pieces are made by using graphite on paper, a medium that Adamakos has used repeatedly throughout his work. The black-and-white combination is in stark contrast to the vibrant, deep colors in «Landscapes,» a series from the late 1990s. In each painting, there is only one color that prevails: a glowing, warm red, azure blue or emerald green, each of a magnificent depth and glow. Built layer upon layer, in broad, sweeping brushstrokes, the paintings of Adamakos play with density and light. They have solidity, substance but also something wonderfully ethereal about them. They express the sublimity of nature and allude to the problems of existence. The work of Yiannis Adamakos ranks high in contemporary Greek art. A tribute to his work, the Agra publication brings it to the broader public.