Ever since the beginnings of his career, Chronis Botsoglou’s obssessive theme has been the male nude, stripped of its flesh and vulnerable, portrayed in a completely empty setting. The artist seems to want to say that, in the interval between life and death, there is only a waiting body, deprived of that beauty which centuries of art have attributed to it.
Over time, his vibrant and loose brushstroke – in which Marina Lambraki-Plaka rightly sees the expressionistic harshness of Bacon and Giacometti – has caused the body to gradually lose physical consistency, dematerializing it: while becoming a kind of ectoplasm it is, simultaneously, charged with symbolist and spiritualist values. This fundamental passage in Botsoglou’s creativity achieves its most intense expression in the cycle titled Personal Nekyia.
The artist replaces Odysseus in the initiatory path described in the eleventh book of Homer’s epic poem. This allows him to evoke presences which, in their impalpable nature, are perceptible first at a subliminal level before being picked up by the viewer’s sense of sight. As it emerges from the dimensionless dark of Hades, the image is made manifest via flashes of light and bright auras which are unable, however, to give it a physiognomy and an identity. Everything appears homologous in the same hallucinated vision, wan and colorless. Thus the solitary shades of Tiresias, Elpenore and Achilles come to the fore, together with the others from ancient masterpieces which have by now become ancestral icons (among these we can make out the Moscophoros and the Fisherman of Ancient Thera), as well as more familiar figures and characters captured in moments of affectionate and painful intimacy. In Botsoglou’s chtonic universe, myth and life thus wind up recovering their common, pre-determined source.
We must say, right away, that the vertiginous illusionistic rendering of the subject is, for Christos Bokoros, something that goes beyond exploits of trompe l’oeil. The challenge that he sends to nature and to the “real” — employing even old wooden planks in order to mix up the roles of the mimetic relationship – becomes above all a pretext: to set the image apart and block it in a timeless suspension in order to restore the amazement of first discovery to both the painterly action and our gaze.
“All I love is always at its beginning,” wrote Odysseas Elytis, and Bokoros intends to take his repertory of painted things (candles, consecrated bread, eggs, white tablecloths, crosses scattered with small flames, poured milk) to a similar visual and emotional virginity.
Through its own hypnotic result, the image seems to purify itself of the contents’ refuse to turn, above all, into the ritual nature of symmetries, of perfect proportions, of the strict orthagonal cuts that the artist measures within a space always awash with light. From this extreme concentration on the visual given – which is nothing more than self-analytical urgency – things assume the meaning of sacrificial offerings, their representation becomes the simulacre of their own transcendence. The gaze winds up being captured by this and forced into pure contemplation.
In final analysis Bokoros restores mystery to the everyday without resorting to metaphysics’ conceptual transfers. These objects do not refer to other or to beyond, they remain imprisoned in their silent onthological nature. And here lies the paradox: originally they are certainly private memory’s relics but, in their exclusive status as “things”, they achieve the value of archetype, and of universal category.