Critique
1997 - Nikitas Flessas at Wigmore Fine Arts – London

His subject-matter lies in the broader field of still life. Even when the artist depicts the human body, the impression given is that he has painted from a photograph or a poster and not from a living model. Undoubtedly, the references to Matisse are deliberate, but without any intention of imitation. The 'impression', however, is not the main purpose of his work. His principal need is form, colour, even the background (often gold, black, or silver), which constitute integral aspects of the whole. But here the references to the post-Impressionists stop, because the broader rhythms of Nikitas Flessas call for other paths. The outline is clear-cut, certain, and the chiaroscuro minimalist. The colours conflict without harmony being sacrificed, is if the artist is seeking to depict specifically the harmony of contrast and of impact.
Frequently Flesses persistently performs a balancing act between Surrealism and Pop Art, for example, a black shiny zone coiled menacingly like a poisonous snake charged with all the semantic values of sex and violence stands beneath an ethereal multi-coloured butterfly in a strange contrapunto which makes you wonder what he wants to say. A gigantic egg in an egg-cup stands with Doric austerity, transcending the feeling of kitsch which a Warhol would have given it, and without a trace of sloppiness in the execution. And the fissure on the left of it gives the impression that it has been caused by an earthquake rather than a spoon. The bare bottom of the girl suggests a violin-shaped figurine, just as the clearly rendered limb of a nude man is reminiscent of a kouros, without eroticism, without vulgarity, without a hint of carnality: they simply present you with the marble calmness of ataraxia of a deity. On the other hand, the leather jackets cast aside bring to mind all the feelings which a poster for Harley Davidsons would envy. The matches light but do not burn. The fruit swells with juice but is not eaten.
Flessas's work is not easy. It does not pose as an exercise in naturalistic depiction. But it keeps you tense, in expectation of the unexpected, as though you are waiting for the sun to rise on the vast horizon of a desert, knowing that it inevitably brings light and death.

Dimitris Pantelidis
GALLERY 1997