K. Tsiropoulos , “EFTHINI” magazine – 1988
BAROMETER – PAINTING
In one of the likeable out of the beaten trach exhibition halls, in Chrysothemis, I came across, pleasantly surprised, the work of a new artist, Nikos Oikonomidis. A first appearance which impresses with the maturity and discipline of the drawing, and mostly, the color. Where was this artist hidden all these years, I wonder.
However, the works he exhibited compensate for this: paintings constructed with an austere talent, with a noble, harmonically expressive feel of structure where a modestly colored view functions, a fundamentally cubist view. The modern visual world as made by men not by God, is Nikos’ perpetual care.
Factories, apartment buildings, cluttered building sites with pieces of iron sticking out, TV antennas, a triumph of cement, shipyards with their damp brightness – a hostile, uninhabited world which tightens one’s heart. Under a bright Mediterranean light with extremely noble colors, Nikos’ universe sends out a bold message of silence – even though in all of his paintings one can detect traces of men, their work and passage. The artist’s work is full of soul and musings which are helped by his steady hand, his assured brush strokes and a coutnerfeit melancholy which walks among his blue colors, within his bloated meta cubist skies, in this world which is big and small, where the paint in the large painting entitled “Shipyard” feels like an open wound.
Mark Nikos’ name. His course will be upwards, without fluctuations.
Kostas E. Tsiropoulos
“EFTHINI” magazine, issue # 197, May 1988
S. Koutsounis , magazine of I. M. Panayiotopoulos School – 1999
THE LEVITATING MAN
Under the sponsorship of the ”IM Panayiotopoulos School”, Nikos Oikonomidis’ sixth solo exhibition took place in May of this last year, at the “Agathi” Gallery.
The people in Oikonomidis’ last works were absent – the painter worked mostly on “city landscapes” and “still lives” – in this one, people, modern man in anticipation of the new century to be more precise, is center stage.
Oikonomidis’ artistic power lies in his ability to portray on people’s faces their inner selves, their very souls. Almost all of his paintings are commenting on the inner self, an effort to show the inner landscapes of people.
Without a doubt, the artist, as a delicate receiver of his era’s characteristics seems to not only live through many of modern man’s sins but, in a sense, also suffers from them. The torturing struggle between what is and what should be, the anxiety between dreams and reality begins in the artist’s soul the urge or better yet the necessity of expression.
Oikonomidis’ human portrayals are shown in a shattered dimension, as shattered as the era we live in. Dismembered bodies, figures torn by loneliness and estrangement, the alienation is evident – people coexist in the same space/painting without even looking at each other. They seem to be looking at the emptiness, the void, as if they are not even looking anywhere at all. They are immersed in their egos, tall walls between them; “we” simply does not exist. Sometimes, their faces are hollow, empty, as is the soul. A peculiar sadness overwhelms them. Memoery doesn’t help. It, too, is gray, hollow. Clouds lead to darkness – inside and out.
Tiredness, both of the body and the soul is visible. Love is either dead or it is never consummated. Dead end prevails.
If we were to analyze the genre, it is obvious that Oikonomidis has not diverged from his endearing cubism and Picasso. The “Demoiselles d’Avignon” in his painting entitled “Lonely Situations” are a direct reference and tribute to the grand master. The cubist influences in Oikonomidis’ works is vaccinated with an expressionistic realism and the result is the artist’s personal style.
Undoubtedly, as G.Grammatikakis writes in his book, “Coma Berenices”, “as the twentieth century – a century of science but also of violent shuffles- nears its end, a new category, a new man is formed: the levitating man.” And this is precisely the man Oikonomidis paints.
P. Zoumboulakis , that someone else is you… – 1999
“That someone else is you…”
I don’t like pompous analyses the kind art critics write. On the other hand, my only approach is that of a painter and friend so this is how I will attempt it.
Niko, my friend, do you want me to write about your work or describe it? They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Whoever looks at these paintings doesn’t really need a description. They are, clearly, comments on life. Collective and “out of order” experiences flood your images persistently yearning to get into the greater picture. (A friend who saw them described them as being a kind of “sensitive chattering”…!)
Through clustered shapes, the tormenting need of sexual coexistence rises in the form of nudes which both call out to us and provoke us. Silent figures trap their imagination in a feast of objects which confine their horizon.
Somewhere in the distance, the “Demoiselles d’Avignon”, an indirect statement to cubism. But isn’t everything in life in the form of a cube? From the shapes of rooms to the TV sets. Our whole existence is registered inside a cube. Dismemberment of bodies and objects. Horror vacui. (When are you going to start subtracting?)
The landscape can sometimes be seen through the dusk although it too, is urban. (Don’t tell me that Mt Immetos is considered as being the countryside?) The ins and outs are mingled like in the iron “logic” of dreams. And the couples, “in their own little world” engaging in a silent, continuous dialogue – monologue without making eye contact.
Petros Zoumboulakis, painter 1999
Y. Kontos , a man caged in the city… – 2001
A man caged in the city with damp colors
Looking at Nikos Oikonomidis’ art, you realize the eye’s potential, its ability to break, to recreate man and his environment.
In the beginning he lively depicts the static parts of the city and the internal spaces which move toward the outside and play a part in the woven space. Old houses which breathe and move at night. With colors (then): gray, blue, smog brown, red, yellow. With colors (now): deep ultramarine, cadmium red, deep Naples yellow, cobalt blue. Faces, naked women and the islands in the distance : Paros, Aegina and the sky which reflects the sea and its intestines, never still, like poems by Dionysios Solomos.
The artist has a continuity from cubism. In the background lessons by Van Gogh, Braque, Matisse. And a wind blows away cities, corners, squares. Retracting, expanding and leaving traces on several levels.
In most of his paintings, there is a floor with old blue tiles. A deathly game of chess. Where life and art are fighting for their slice. Thick strokes (of color) create women with a feel for daydreams, in correlation with the house, the man, the body, the hair and the more. In other paintings, bathers gazing calmly and stairs leading to the sky.
Somewhere here, Nikos Egonopoulos lurks with paint brushes and poems. A couple watching – most probably TV – on the couch, the cubism of the rooms bodies/objects signals it’s about ten at night. How does a woman talk with the colors of the naked body, the sea, the oval shape of the islandic house surrounding her?
Elsewhere, I. M. Panayiotopoulos with his stories. With cigarettes which the artist still smokes. The cigarette’s end still burns as do his memories. I see Thessaloniki with its Yedi Koule, Hortiatis and all that is byzantine and comfort/encourage us. The colors, open and close and bear down on us. The sea surrounds us, mercilessly.
It is everywhere. It crawls and paper boats travel. Many women gaze at the sea dressed in white, in ancient (clothes). One stands out though, breaks the calm, dressed in red. I will wait for you is the message of the colors and the blue of your eyes. The city is everywhere with its noise, its quietness (of the afternoon) as well as with its size and the great grey. Yet that tile (sometimes white, sometimes black, and sometimes blue) like an eternal motif is a music that follows us and invites us in a never-ending game.
S. Baker, about his exhibition in Bristol – 2001
Εxhibition at Art Garden Gallery, Redland
We don’t have to look far in Bristol for Greek influence in our city’s art and architecture. We have the murals in Greek takeaways, the architecture of the Victoria Rooms and even a replica of the Parthenon frieze.
But things work both ways, and over in Athens an established artist’s work has been profoundly influenced by his period spend in Bristol in the seventies, and many of his paintings incorporate images of the city.
Nick Oikonomidis was born in the Athenian port of Piraeus in 1953 and had his first lessons in drawing and painting in the workshop of George Voyiagis in Athens before coming in Bristol in 1972. He studied Art A Level in Filton Technical College and considers Pat Farrell and Mervyn Payne, his lecturers, to have been a seminal influence on his painting. Outside the college studios Nick imbibed the different landscapes of the factories and airfields of Filton and the then faded grandeur of Georgian Clifton, where he had lodgings on Pembroke Road.
In 1973 Nick won a place to study at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Arts in London, and subsequently returned to Athens where he has been working from his own studio ever since. He is now an established artist in Athens, is a member of the Greek Chamber of Fine Arts and has held several solo exhibitions in the capital as well as working with publishing houses to produce some acclaimed book covers.
Nick considers his years in Bristol to be the formative one, and images from that period continue to feature in many of his paintings. In 1992, moved by a strong desire to get back to those Bristolian roots he got in touch with his contacts at Filton in the hope that there might be some traces of his work remaining. He was overjoyed to find that a number indeed remained. Four huge paintings that he had produced were considered so exceptional by the art staff at Filton that they had been hanging on the walls of the Shield House building for over 20 years, an inspiration to successive years of A level and Foundation Art students in the college. Nick immediately flew over to retrieve them and revisit the place of their creation – only months before the characterful Shield House studios were demolished to make way for the new retail centre.
So keen was Nick to acknowledge his dept to Filton and return to his inspirational roots that he decided he had to mount an exhibition of his work in the city. Over the last couple of years he das produced a series of paintings in which the Athenian and Bristolian worlds fuse, and an exhibition of that work is to be held at Art Garden Gallery in Lower Redland Road from 8th to 29th September 2001.
His works are quite large in scale, usually at least two by three feet and embrace the viewer in a world which is unmistakably Greek. The blue seas, the white buildings are the images of modern Greek familiar to us all from holiday brochures and the island hopping of yesteryear. The mythology of Greece is never far away, in the form of Theseus and the Minotaur or a languid Aphrodite. And in this quintessentially Greek landscape we are surprised to see images of Bristol: the Victorian Rooms, the (soon to be demolished ) 1960s edifice of Filton College, a typical English semi-detached house or figures instantly recognizable to those familiar with staff of Filton’s Department of Arts in the 1970s.
But these are much more than evocative landscapes. There is a sense of timelessness as in Nostalgia where we see a group watching and talking on a stepped platform. Are they the gods of Olympus, modern Athenians on the harbourside at Piraeus or a group of 1970s students chatting on the Shield House steps? Juxtapositions and contrasts are very much part of Nick’s style. In Faith Waiting, a lonely female is in stark contrast to a family group, whilst in the background the white Greek houses and domes of churches merge with darker structures including the spire of St Peter’s on the A38. A couple in the ironically titled Conversation sit at a checkerboard café table, a void between them, he with bare feet on an azure sea-like whilst she sits statuesque on a ceramic tile base. Behind them rises Park Street and the square white cubes that are the Greek town.
The cubes permeates Nick’s work and seems to represent both the features of his landscapes, where hard geometric man-made forms dominate nature, and his perception of human beings, where people too often seem to be rigidly enclosed in a box prison of their own making. The encroachment of building developments and the isolation of the individual are themes which unite urban beings and so the images are at home equally in Athens or Bristol.
The predominant shades of blue and the glow of the Athenian light provide a warmth which gives hope to the landscapes and the lonely figures.
Professor – July 2001
L. Panayiotopoulou , Mount Athos, Nauplion, Constantinople – 2006
Three places, three destinations both esoteric and pictorial. Points of reference. The painter is charmed both by their history and their present and opens a communication portal using various forms drawn from his personal prism of aesthetics and technique.
First stop Mt.Athos.
He is impressed by the emblematic architectural style of the monasteries as well as with the unspoilt nature of the area. He discovers a unique land, a land of transcendence, a challenge to connect with the inner being.
He strolls through its narrow streets, “colors” its houses, their roofs. He ascends to Palamidi, looks towards Bourtzi. He converses with the blue of the sea. He crosses Syntagma square a place where – formerly- the warriors of the 1821 revolution gathered, his gaze falls on the old Parliament building. Each and every one of his steps in Nafplion a stroll in history, his canvases a bridge connecting the past and the present.
Finally, Constantinople, the paternal birthplace. The emotions here are varied; the emotional strain high.
He walks through the old Greek neighborhood and then visits Agia Sophia – he is in awe. He travels in the sea of Bosporus and becomes emotional when visiting the Princes Islands.
The area of Galata, the Blue Mosque overwhelm him….The history of the city so full of contrasts, wars, fame, grandeur.
Constantine the Great, Justinian, later the Ottomans.
As we reach the end of this journey, we have the feeling that the artistic eye is in a “conversation” with the people, the buildings, nature itself. And it doesn’t really matter that there is an absence of human forms. The human adventure is there.
Professor – writer
V. Sarakatsianou , “Ideal House” magazine – 2007
Nikos Oikonomidis presented his new works entitled “Mt.Athos (Agio Oros)-Nafplion-Constantinople” in the Chryssothemis Gallery in Chalandri, Athens. Nikos chose three places with glorious pasts, full of historical memories, connected with some of Greece’s most important moments. And so, he begins a pilgrimage, an esoteric route, imprinting his feelings onto his paintings. His works take us from the monasteries of Mt.Athos, to the picturesque cobbled streets of Nafplion, to the Bosphorus waters, to Haghia Sofia and the streets of Constantinople.
The work in question, more lyrical and descriptive than his previous works, can be regarded as a break from the entirety of his artistic works. Being a painter himself, multileveled, with numerous interests and preoccupations, he usually depicts in his work the vibration of modern life while indirectly criticizing it at the same time.
In chaotic spaces, full of surprises, where the outdoors penetrates the indoors, forms and objects huddle creating at times a horror vacui (fear of the emptiness), an indirect depiction of the fear felt by the modern human in viewing his vast loneliness. The unorthodox/offbeat perspective, the fragmented surfaces in accordance with the cubist logic, the annulment of the time frames and the absence of time, create a surrealistic atmosphere, where forms and objects function as symbols.
Often, different episodes are part of the same painting, creating a collage of stories which can function independently, keeping their self containment, but can also be part of a greater array. Their narrative style allows the viewer, through a “visual reading”, to be led into the myth but, simultaneously, allowing them to interpret the picture themselves and construct their own personal story.
Dr. Vicky Sarakatsianou
Idaniko Spiti (Ideal Homes) Magazine, issue # 181, March 2007
Y. Kontos , the tables filled with miracles… – 2008
The tables filled with Miracles In Nikos Oikonomidis’ Art
It all seems normal yet it is lighted by an irrational and everyday mundaness. What a small world it is up there. Like a pier from where ships depart. Oil, acrylics. Colors:the blue is ever-present (though here, specifically, it is the ultra marine.) Umber both burnt and raw. Sepia. With the umber, the table becomes a pice of earth waiting to be sowed. Cadmium red and vermillion. A landscape atop the old wooden table. The landscape assumes the role of the tablecloth. Another oval shaped table where girls play cards after their swim. On the dining room table, everything is set, waiting for the patrons. Under the table, a sleeping dog. The old family dining table. On it papers, a pack of Sante cigarettes and an undelivered letter for a girl named Maria. The father’s footsteps are heard. A copper table for the veranda – Greek coffee, glass of water and a forgotten pack of Assos cigarette from the past. The past mingles with the colors and sighs. Hushed voices. A girl laughing. Summertime with plastic (table and chairs) and an innocent light blue. The sun and the light play with the blue monotony and a coppery sound of fear emerges. Further away, an iron table in a sepia, ultramarine and orange background play with the time. The burnt sienna would both like to and could speak. Honestly, how can one paint ice cold water? And the great July heat wave? Another plastic table with traces of food and talks. And another one, empty. Full of question marks. The artist’s table with brushes, dreams, abstracts. Another table: books,ideas,silence. A table with oil pastels and low human voices. The sea rises and enters the houses. Light blue reigns. A Gauloise awaits your hand. The table is skin colored and is talking with the yellowish red of Naples. The table here is studied and multiplied as a functional object.
I don’t see any humans but they are present in so many ways and colors. Strictly speaking, these works of Nikos Oikonomidis are still lives. People look through the canvases and participate. One could call this exhibition “Man and the table”. The table where we sit, eat, build, talk. The table: of the hunted, the bourgeois, the dreamer, the lover. The table: of the killer, the prisoner. The table: of the architect, the poet, the actor. The table: of the snitch, the exiled, the soldier. The table: of the girl. That forceful beast, memory, the sea are much like the works of Oikonomidis – washing out the drowned, the live ones and the colors.
Yannis Kontos, poet
V. Oikonomopoulou , People and Objects… – 2010
People and Objects in Nikos Oikonomidis’ visual art
So, the pictures in Nikos’ works are sometimes crystal clear, to the point where one feels they can touch and feel them, whilst other times, they appear somehow blurry. And yet, this strange mixture of pictures is more characteristic of the “real” human micro world than a photograph or a realistic painting.
In spite of the apparent confusion and the sparse forms, Oikonomidis’ paintings are not sloppy/untidy. The artist conjures his images out of uniform pieces so his end result is one of consistency. The painter, obviously influenced by the Cubism movement, renders well known artifacts: tables, bottles, everyday items or even the human form itself. Oikonomidis, in most of his paintings, assumes that the object pictured is familiar so the viewer can easily understand the relation between them.
The artist converses among the world of things (furniture, pots, work tools) those “simple, tangible, inconceivable soothing objects, those small radiators of the useful human energy” as Yiannis Ritsos would say (Testimonies, 1957-1965). The objects, like all living and still lives in the universe, are in constant correspondence with man. This poetic vision of the artist gives his work a simple, sometimes enigmatic style which records the few gestures and psychic jolts, whilst transfixing the fleeting consecrated everyday life.
Oikonomidis’ subjects are not only relating to elements of everyday environment but also with the human form. His angle filled tall stretchy forms and the lighting of the faces are homage of the artist to the Cubism movement and the works of its greater representative, Picasso. Oikonomidis hints at the influences from this movement in his 1995 painting “lonesome situations” where we see within the painting a detail from the Demoiselles d’Avignon. In the artist’s works we can often see the rational, often geometrical disintegration of the human body and face.
Oikonomidis manages an additional reading from the viewer by incorporating in his paintings pieces of papers and other materials. These clippings from newspapers, pieces of papier mache, cloth etc are connected to everyday life.
Oikonomidis’ world renounces the visual shattering of the (human) form, the objects and space in general, in order to provide the consciousness of modern man’s broken/lost identity. The artist, in view of the real dead-end life chooses to show us how to embrace the dead end and discovers disintegration, fragmentation and violent cuts in consciousness as prerequisites of being, sort of like a key ingredient in the expression of modern times.
In the artist’s own words:
Pepole looking for their face
Lonesome figures lost in their egos
An entire world in dead-end relationships.
Men and women who don’t even glance at one another.
Angry people in angry cities.
The human being… at the end of the century.
P.S. And don’t call me a pessimist….I AM!
V. Oikonomopoulou, 2010
Y. Emiris , a speech in Chryssothemis Gallery – 2010
A Speech In Chryssothemis Gallery
So, on the one hand, we have a happy look, vibrant colors, full of light and summer tones which hide a different reality as its figures indicate.
In order to answer this question, we have to wonder what color is (in general and also as it pertains to Nikos’ painting) what is the synonym here? Light!
Look at the paintings around us. Only one of them is “dark” that is only one of them is lacking color and that one is aptly called “August”. A dying blue, whites and a single black stripe are all it takes to describe the peacefulness, the carelessness, the relaxation.
In “war”, the night is brightly lit, the figures are lighted even though they are people wounded or desperately hiding.
In the multitude of colors, even the black dressed woman finds its place.
It would be tempting to discuss each painting separately but it is not that important. I would, however, like to mention the “tiring day” in which the figures are resting and the poet (in this instance Giannis Kontos) talks about the “inverted picture of reality”.
The light coexists with the night. The naked body coexists with the fully dressed one, the childish strokes coexist with the rest of the painting’s elements.
The dialogue between his picture and the words fascinates me and I am not referring so much to the lyrics he incorporates nor the manuscripts he adds to his works. I am talking about the deeper dialogue stemming from the image itself.
I would venture saying that Nikos with this exhibition undermines the luminosity (and not the magnificence) of the times, undermines today’s life style, playing in his own court.
Y. Emiris, 2010
G. Markopoulos , Bright Yellow Gelatin – 2010
Bright Yellow Gelatin
Looking at my friend’s Nikos Economidis’ paintings, one profits in two ways – the literary pieces and all that takes place in their pages and the paintings with all the tenderness and feel-good sense that they provoke as they are all focused on the same subject.
As far as the paintings are concerned, what we deduct is that great quality artwork, remains and always will be the best road for us to get in touch with the hidden beauty of the world and of life.
And truly, this is exactly what Nikos achieves here : to bring out the beauty nestled behind every move, behind any random re-enactment of the game’s highlights.
Good-looking faces, good, solid boys next door are depicted and Nikos, as all genuine artists, realizes that in the end, the champion is not necessarily the one holding the cup but time, and time alone. And by “scoring from the locker room” as we say in soccer dialect, he wants to preserve them looking young and fresh, with their robust dreams, just as they were in their peak.
G. Markopoulos, 2010
G. Hatjiiakovou , The Medicinal Ecumenicity… – 2010
The Medicinal Ecumenicity of the Imperial Yellow
Looking at Nikos Oikonomidis’ paintings one feels a shiver. It is perhaps, the Greek reaction of the pictorial fact towards the viewer. The fertile assimilation from the painter of great art movements from the greats of the Western civilization and their incorporation in his own, unique Greek art language. An art language in which all overly sweet emotion is absent without sacrificing however the emotional quotient.
In the case of the exhibition in question, the illegitimate lover is also the official partner. And here, the medicinal ecumenicity of the imperial yellow comes to play. The color yellow which incorporates the fiery red in harmony with the natural green and, in lesser amounts, the blue of the sky and the sea and all the other colors found in nature. All the colors in a dynamic equilibrium of AEK healing, a team whose nickname by its fans is illness!
G. Hatjiiakovou, 2010
V. Kalamaras , newspaper ‘ELEFTHEROTYPIA” – 2011
Sundays with AEK
Nikos Oikonomidis’ passion for the team of AEK is clearly depicted in a series of paintings which pay homage to the AEKean ethics of the refugees and unappreciation. Paintings and essays about the team can be found in the book “Yellow and Black” (PERITECHNON editions with the support of the FC), where, apart from his characteristic black and yellow works, he has enlisted the help of some other “crazy” supporters from all walks of artistic life.
As a Panathinaikos supporter, I’ve been going to games since the 70’s, back when the “greens”, the “reds” and the “yellow – blacks” all sat side by side, thus I can understand Nikos’ infatuation with the team.
Born in the 50’s in Neo Faliro, Nikos didn’t become an Olympiakos fan but AEK instead since his father, Sifis Oikonomidis was a refugee from Constantinople. His early football images are back in the New Philadelphia stadium when everything was handmade – flags, emblems, clothes even consciousnesses…
The “Sunday Ritual” as he calls it, was not just going to the stadium. It started with Sunday mass, then the Greek family roast came out, “on a throne”, in the middle of the table. I’m sure you can imagine what came next : horrible buses where people were like sardines in a can, gray pressed suits (because the match was a sort of celebration), voices, disagreements, swearing, celebrating the goal…
From the essays and the paintings there is nostalgia, spontaneity, emotion, tears of joy and sadness. For AEK fans and all those who love football, not just their own team.
February 15th, 2011
He was born in 1953, in Piraeus, Greece.
He studied Drawing and Painting in G. Vojadgis studio in Athens and in England (Bristol : Filton Tech. College and London : Slade School of Fine Arts). He has presented his work in 20 solo and many group exhibitions in Greece, Cyprus, England and Belgium. He has published 3 books:
1) YELLOW and BLACK
2) VERSES on the EASEL
3) The TALKING TABLES