Artist/Maker: Yannis Papayannis (b. 1962)
Object/Materials and Techniques: Acrylic on paper
Date: Painted in 2010
Dimensions: H. 40 cm. x W. 50 cm.
Art style: Abstract art/Pop surrealism/Lowbrow art
Current Location: Artist’s collection
Curator’s note: |’n Art| presents three paintings from a series of works Yannis Papayannis made after reading the book, The Hellenics and Hellenic Love, by James Davidson. A book with rare insights into the complex and peculiar – for a great number of people- world of Ancient Hellenic love and homosexuality. The artist chose some intriguing stories from the book and animated them.
In this painting he depicts a story from the ancient Hellenic mythology. According to the story, there was a well-known hero from the ancient Hellenic city of Thespiae, under the name Cleostratus, who relieved his homeland of a dragon that every year wanted as a sacrifice a young Thespian. One year was Cleostratus’ turn to be sacrificed and his friend Menestratos built, on his behalf, a net full of metallic hooks. The dragon ate Cleostratus with his net and so he died. Thus, Cleostratus sacrificed himself by offering to be devoured by the Dragon but he succeeded in avenging the Dragon with the aid and love of his dear friend Menestratos. The friendship of two men and their victory against the Dragon are metaphorically crowned by the depicted winged Eros, the Ancient God of Sensual Love and Desire and prostate of amorous.
Yannis Papayannis, herein, succeeds in further spotlighting the alluring of the mythological scenery and foregrounding the seductively existence of his characters by displaying, in an ostentatious and tawdry manner, a narrative of mythology and classical antiquity. Behind this phenomenally naïve, animated depiction, Yannis Papayannis’ cartoon-tainted motifs, in their simplicity, suggest strong thought-provoking allegory and transcend the painting to become universal and timeless.