1996- Haunting Stillness


Mystery permeates the metaphysical realism of Nikitas Flessas' latest paintings, in which their deceptive rationality borders on the surreal. His still-life compositions are overwhelmed by a haunting stillness, only confirming the atmosphere of unreality and mystery.

The still-life objects of these paintings are everyday articles — telephone, radio. bottles, shoes, etc. — depicted in photographic detail. Their enigmatic interplay with modem figures in classical poses defies narrative interpretation and puzzles the viewer. The back view of a girl's head hovers in space above a telephone, a radio and a small red flower, all lined up on a white table. Both objects and figure conjure up an illusion of silence impregnated with meaningful emotions.

In several paintings, however, Flessas subtly implies a human presence — in the pair of unlaced boots that seem to have been taken off that very moment; in the fullness of a pair of empty white gloves encircling a lighted match; in a red bow-tie hastily thrown on the table. And he creates vivid contrasts of opaque color — stark white, velvety black, fiery red — and surfaces of alabaster smoothness. The phone and radio glisten in black splendor on brilliant milky-white tables and assume a commanding presence of their own that belies their common everyday function.

There are also several paintings of nude figures completely flooded by a single color, either red or blue. One depicts a curvaceous girl with hands wrapped around knees drawn up almost to the chin, hair swept high and head bent down in contemplation. The opaque monochrome color that envelops the entire canvas augments the image of loneliness, its haunting silence transporting it beyond the present reality.

Mary Machas


April 1996