Artist/Maker: Yannis Papayannis (b. 1962)
Object/Materials and Techniques: Oil, gold and silver on canvas
Date: Painted in 2015
Dimensions: H. 55 cm. x W. 40 cm.
Art style: Abstract art/Expressive elements with expressionistic structures/Gesturalism
Current Location: Artist’s collection
Curator’s note: A series of allegorical paintings which, according to Yannis Papayannis himself, are ‘a wager with myself to make pictures about a specific short piece of music, Luciano Berio’s 3rd Part of his ‘Sinfonia‘, by using eleven seemingly diverse things like interviews, photos, artworks and other fragments of music, I thought they related directly, incidentally or metaphorically to the 3rd Part.‘
Hence, the inspiration of the artist derives directly from the relevant documentary Voyage to Cythera (element 1) based on Luciano Berio’s music composition Sinfonia (element 2) that includes crucial parts for eight amplified voices. The Italian composer’s intuition, especially on the 3rd Part, where the music interacts with Samuel Beckett’s writings in his book The Unnamable (element 3), is dynamically transmitted by Yannis Papayannis’ paintings, in particular on surrounding together musical layers and textual references. Thereafter, the spatial ascending lines, one of Yannis Papayannis’ most characteristic personal verbal idioms, as illustrated in his paintings herein, give the impression of melodic lines that are stringing simultaneously with the words, like the eight voices in Sinfonia confound with the orchestra. At the same time, these spatial ascending lines suggest a kind of interior monologue or interior self-expression. They pass on Luciano Berio’s Diary Notes (element 4) like fragments of inner questions, answers, meditations or comments, as a kind of ‘intermezzi’.
Furthermore, gazing at the background of the paintings, the rhythmical structure of one of the most popular courtly scenes, as depicted in the self-titled masterpiece Voyage to Cythera by Antoine Watteau (element 5), is mainly brought in mind, while the chosen colour palette of the background reflects the seven colours of the Sumerian Temples of Ancient Mesopotamia: silver, blue, yellow, gold, red, orange, black (element 6).
Quite dominant, throughout the series of these compositions, is the expressive element, further influenced and developed by Gustav Mahler’s most successful work, the Symphony No. 2 and particularly by its scherzo that features a part for a solo violin in C minor (element 7). Moreover, Yannis Papayannis’ immense desire to express emotion, is highly driven by the emotional effect of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous expressionistic swirl paintings (element 8) on him and also by the impact of photos of bombs exploding on the surface of the sea (element 9); and it is this osmotic force of his desire that is depicted through a powerful colour selection, that recalls Günther Förg’s coolly colourful paintings in the Barnes Foundations (element 10), and through a successful colour enhancement, revealing from Johannes Itten’s complementary colour theory according to which the contrast is formed by the juxtaposition of colour wheel or perceptual opposites (element 11).
Just like a person’s gestures may reflect his personal feelings on various moments in his everyday life, similarly, Yannis Papayannis herein, through energetic intense brushstrokes and explosive gesturalism, attempts to express, in a deliberate and intentional manner, his emotions and his subconscious reactions to everyday favourite habits, like listening to music or meeting with friends; and just like that he simply keeps going with his everyday life ‘…it was an instinctive path which started by listening to the music, scribbling on paper, unrolling and rearranging my Guests and later by changing, reconsidering and amending the images on the canvas‘.
- Luciano Berio (1925 – 2003) was an Italian composer and a pioneer in electronic music. He is noted for his experimental work, in particular his composition Sinfonia (1968) and his series of virtuosic solo pieces titled Sequenza.
- SamuelBarclay Beckett (1906 – 1989) was an Irish Nobel Prize – winner dramatist playwright, avant-garde novelist and poet.
- The Embarkation for Cythera (1717) (L’Embarquement pour Cythère) is a painting by the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. It is also known as Voyage to Cythera and Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera (fêtes galantes).
- Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) was an Austrian – Jewish composer, noted for his 10 symphonies and various songs with orchestra, and one of the leading conductors of his generation, acting as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the Modernism of the early 20th century.
- Günther Förg (1952 – 2013) was a German painter, graphic designer, sculptor and photographer. His abstract style was influenced by American abstract painting and he is part of a post-war generation of German artists who reacted against Modernism.
- Swiss colour theorist and artist, Johannes Itten (1888-1967) was one of the first people to define and identify strategies for successful colour combinations. Through his research he devised seven methodologies for coordinating colours utilizing the hue’s contrasting properties.