Since the rise of postmodernism, portraiture, as an artistic and sociopolitical subject matter, has inevitably been affected by the mechanisms of mass culture. The portrait of a fashion icon is displayed next to the face of a starved child, the portrait of a politician next to an advertisement for fake eyelashes. Everything is intermingled in a common platform where it weakens any critical awareness, and hence becomes a spectacle or an ephemeral event. The Pop art movement of the sixties produced an extensive body of work that explored these issues.

Alexandros Vasmoulakis has mounted a comprehensive examination of figuration and portraiture in his work of recent years. On one level, he is greatly inspired by the image making of the media, as well portraiture within an art historical context. On another, his work is more than a visual exploration of history itself. The artist unveils the instinctive and visceral side of people, the essential core of the human psyche that is mostly concealed behind our everyday masks and facades. He scrutinizes the uncanny and abnormal side of human nature that celebrates its psychological complexities rather than oppresses them.

The artist`s new series of works oscillate between figuration and abstraction, shaped and directed by his passion for ambiguity and distortion. The paintings undergo a long process of modification where he builds up many layers of paint, often partially or completely removing layers, in a constant process of addition and subtraction. Ηis rich, complex textural effects are created through the dense use of color, and his unique mixed-media technique, where he combines thick impasto`s of oil paint with translucent layers of acrylic and delicate enamel touches.

In terms of composition, the distorted faces and bodies are positioned centrally, as if to openly declare their dominance and subjectivity. The figures are perhaps disturbing, but nevertheless strangely attractive and compelling. The artist toys with this aesthetic idea of beauty and ugliness through a morphological language that reveals an inner psychological scope.

The figures resemble theatrical personas, who express themselves in exaggerated manner. They are in a state of “innocent” ecstasy and rapture; an undefined sense of euphoria that overwhelms the spectator`s gaze. This self-introspection hints at our unconscious drives that are in constant battle with the given “normality” of reason. In our contemporary environment of media saturation, and pervasive digital imagery, we are relentlessly bombarded by idealized images of happiness and beauty, to the point that many of these paradigms enter our minds at a purely subconscious level. Vasmoulakis tries to question the effects of this on the individual, and our perceptions of each other. He constantly reminds us of the inspiration and truth we can find hidden behind our camouflage, as we face our fragility and look beyond the impossible role models provided by advertising and the mass media.

Elli Paxinou / Sasha Zivkovic

January 2013
Archisearch - Elizabeth oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 25x29cmELIZABETH OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 25X29CM
Archisearch - She is in love with people she has never met oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 29x33cmSHE IS IN LOVE WITH PEOPLE SHE HAS NEVER MET OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 29X33CM
Archisearch - Bang Bang oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 29x33cmBANG BANG OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 29X33CM
Archisearch - The war is over oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 80x110cmTHE WAR IS OVER OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 80X110CM
Archisearch - There`s a voice inside of you that whispers all day long oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 58x88cmTHERE`S A VOICE INSIDE OF YOU THAT WHISPERS ALL DAY LONG OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 58X88CM
Archisearch - The mirror oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 85x100cmTHE MIRROR OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 85X100CM
Archisearch - She told me stories until I slept peacefully oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas 90x100cmSHE TOLD ME STORIES UNTIL I SLEPT PEACEFULLY OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 90X100CM
Archisearch - The air here is sweet oil, enamel, acrylic on canvas  80x100cmTHE AIR HERE IS SWEET OIL, ENAMEL, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 80X100CM