Artist/Maker: Kostas Kampouropoulos (1939-2018)
Object/Materials and Techniques: Oil on canvas
Date: Painted between 2007-2016
Dimensions: H. 80 cm. x W. 60 cm.
Art style: Portraiture/Romantic elements with surrealistic expressionistic structures/Abstract art
Current Location: Private collection
Curator’s note: A male Native American’s portrait of the renowned Chief Seattle (1786-1866) who was the leader of the Native American tribes Suquamish and Duwamish ( and after whom the city of Seattle, in the U.S. state of Washington, was named), holding a copy of the Holy Bible in his hands. A leading figure among his people who pursued a path of accommodation to white settlers, was converted to Christianity by French missionaries, and was baptised in the Roman Catholic Church, with the baptismal name Noah, (probably in 1848 near Olympia, Washington). An ambiguous side-reference to the baptism of the Native Americans to Christianity, during the colonial period, the story of whom has always been a challenge to the painter from childhood to adulthood.
What is intriguing about this portrait is the power of the facial expression and the meaningful gaze of the portrayed man, despite the abstract ‘peinture’. Resting his head, he is inviting the audience to look at him, but, at the same time, to look beyond him and discover the story behind. And if they do so, he will allow them to entry in the mystical word not only of his own history but of all the Native Americans, of his era, whom he represents being their glory Chief.
Notably wispy brushstrokes, moody dark colours, and a loom atmosphere -with the only colourful exceptions the ones of the white collar and the yellow and red accessories of a typical catholic priestly vesture- highly add on the scepticism, the willpower and the strength of the portrayed leading figure; add on his inner self expression and mainly his confidence about his new religious beliefs regarding the Christianity.