Digital Art - Drawing
Graphic arts and typography flourished in some former socialist countries, such as Poland and Czechoslovakia. This situation seems strange nowadays especially if we realize that advertising – being the driving force behind graphic design – was practically non-existent in those countries.
Polish designers took the lead in poster art and their work was recognized internationally. The peak of their efforts was the foundation of the Warsaw International Poster Biennale, a perfectly working institution of high quality standards that enjoys a large international clientele even nowadays.
The central theme of the 1978 Biennale, which was “Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Civilization” and the issues of environment pollution in Athens, which reached catastrophic levels seriously damaging the substance of many ancient monuments, were corresponding directly. At the same time, the public opinion outside Greece was bringing pressure upon the greek government to take measures against pollution, forcing some action.
Sensitized on environmental issues I decided to work on the subject although I knew that I didn't have any experience (I was just in the second year of my studies). Nevertheless, I had my share of experience with Athen's smog since its beginnings (as I was doing my military service there). I was enraged at the thought of the damage caused to people – who at the same time were collectively responsible for a large part of the problem – and monuments. The damage caused by pollution in ten years was larger than the ravages of ages.
We were at the beginning of a new era. More and more people were thinking seriously about the effects of environmental pollution and were starting to react by expressing their dismay.
The success of this certain image lies mainly in the drawing method and the medium itself. The graphite pencil created the appropriate dramatic mood with 'hard' contrasts. Its thick trace and especially the background, evokes the notion of asphyxiation to the viewers, making them feel as if inhaling the thick, heavy, polluted air. The use of the gas mask, indicating air pollution, was not overused yet whereas it had a clear and comprehensive semiological character.
The figure of Caryatid, clenched by the weight of the construction she supports, offers the perfect identification for the average viewer, who feels trapped and unable to react properly, if not at all, to environmental issues.
The message remains up to date as the problems persist or get even worse.
The summer fires of 2007 that threatened to destroy the site of ancient Olympia brought public attention to the 'Suffocating Caryatid' once again – 30 years after it was made – in the general context of environmental damage and cultural treasures.
Expanding Caryatid's message in a metaphorical and symbolic sense, we could say that the issue it addresses doesn't remain only on environmental problems but has more to do with the substance of western civilization which is founded on the ancient Greek ideals. These ideals are muted nowadays to the point of suffocation and alienated beyond recognition.
Political corruption leadig to social suffering, (especially in Greece), is just an example.
May 7th, 2013
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