A man is sitting on his knees thinking. What is he thinking? Has he reached a decision? Why is he sitting on his knees? These are the questions that the work poses on the viewer. It seems like he is on the verge of making up his mind and standing up. He sits still for the moment, but movement is anticipated. In Skepsis, Nikolas combines two seminal sculptural concepts with a brilliant result. On the one hand there is the type of the Thinker, most famous from the homonymous work by Rodin. On the other, the grand tradition of Protocycladic sculptures, with their elegance and minimal aesthetic.
While in Skepsis, rational thought and logic are the prevalent elements, here the senses (Aesthisis in Greek) take hold. We bare witness in one of the most sacred moments of courtship, the moment before the first kiss. The two figures interlocked in an embrace are defined by their most essential characteristics of their sex, the gentle curve of the breast for the woman and a sturdier body for the man, thus becoming archetypes of the Male and the Female. Despite its abstract form, the artwork is imbued with sentiment. Honoring his Greek roots, Nikolas draws his inspiration from the Protocycladic igurines breathing life into them and transforming them.
Travel (Taxidi in Greek) is intertwined with the Greek soul. From the journeys of Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey to the seafaring nature of our people the blue of the sky and the sea is part of the Greek ethos. Nikolas’s artwork unites the form of a ship’s figurehead with that of a Protocycladic idol inviting the viewer to travel and explore both literally and metaphorically. The wing-like shapes on the head of the sculpture reminds us of the wings of the Nike of Samothraki but also of the feathers on native American headpieces, bringing forward movement to the whole piece.
Probably the most esoteric and reflective piece of this collection, Spirituality depicts the struggles of the psyche. The quest for spiritual enlightenment is a long and arduous one, with many dangers for us, the ‘’pilgrims’’. It is envisioned as an unsurmountable mountain, but the careful observer can spot the solution. A little staircase is placed at the side aiding us to overcome the hardships and reach the top. There we come face to face with spirituality depicted as a raw, primal entity part snake part dinosaur. Something so ancient and so integrated in the human soul that takes the shape of a prehistoric being.
Space, the final frontier. From the dawn of civilization man tries to reach for the stars. Is there someone out there or are we alone is this vast universe? With this work Nicolas speaks about the great insecurity we feel as a species when we think about life in other planets. This is the modern ‘’primitive’’ man gazing with awe at the prospect of space exploration, crippled by beliefs, religions and the darker aspects of human nature. The latter is symbolized by the missing pieces in his body. Interestingly enough, the stance of the body with its raised hands reminds us of the Minoan snake goddess figurines.
Inspired by the writings of History professor Harari, Homo Deus creates a vision of the future. Nikolas imagines Man physically transformed by new technologies to the point of attaining a status of immortality, thus becoming a homo deus (a human god). Caught between two states of being the figure is starting to lose its shape transcending its worldly form and promising a bright future for the human species. A utopian dream harboring many hopes but also a warning about the ethical use of these pioneering ideas in the field of medicine.
With this piece, the artist takes the well-known form of a Protocycladic idol morphing it into the mythological Cyclops. Essentially an exercise in sculptural technic, Nikolas combines modelling with carving while experimenting with different patinas to create a renewed version of this type. Protocycadic figurines used to be sculpted exclusively in marble, in contrast Nikolas creates his own version in bronze, modernizing an ancient concept.
SEA OF PLASTIC
The past blends with the present in order to warn about the future. A Moai statue, the hallmark of Easter Island, is drowning in single-use plastics, marked by the chemical structure of Polyethylene. The statue fights to breathe, while clutching on molecules of hydrogen and carbon. The man- assisted deforestation of Easter Island works as a historical example of how humans can alter their environment long before the existence of factories. Where once where palm trees now spans a wide grassland. History will not have to repeat itself if we heed the lessons of the past.
Black holes are probably the most astonishing phenomenon in the macrocosm of space. A dying star that has depleted its fuel and greedily consumes everything around it. Nothing escapes a black hole, not even light. However, the dark star is far from empty, on the contrary the mass gathered in such a small space is so massive that causes the star to collapse in itself. Here, a black hole is the raw power of the universe made manifest: an undeniable proof that everything dies but nothing is lost. The death of the star is the birth of the black hole. Matter transforms over and over in a never-ending cycle. In the sculpture, the crossing “event horizons” create, due to their constant rotation, a gate-point of exit through time and space for the combination of mass and energy to travel to a new universe, to a new life.
The advent of technological developments in recent years has been without precedent. Nowadays computers have changed and, in many ways, enhanced almost every aspect of our lives. They have become essential in the professional and private sphere, but also in medicine and education. This sculpture, shaped like a fluffy cloud, stares with awe at this new world that is emerging. The possibilities are endless. However, along with the enthusiasm comes a word of caution. To what end are we prepared to let machines have control? Where do we draw the line? The sculpture’s face with its wide eyes and open mouth does it really show amazement? Could it be fear?
The Astronaut with his hovering step depicts the ambivalent stance we have towards death. The existential fear that he experiences gnaws at his mind. He ventures to unravel the mysteries that remain hidden in deep space, in order to understand himself. After his exploration, both literal and allegorical, he returns as a winner, having realized his ephemeral existence. The two Black Holes that he holds in his hands are a powerful symbol of the duality of the natural world: the never-ending interchange of matter and energy, life and death. As Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis writes in The Saviours of God (Ασκητική): “I do not hope for anything. I do not fear anything. I am free.”
Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and endings, of time and duality. He always has two faces looking simultaneously to the past and the future. This sculpture encapsulates the meaning of the whole series, by adopting primitive or ancient forms to talk about the issues of our time. Like Janus, it looks at the events of the past to warn or to make informed decisions about the future. He respects the inherent duality that exists in nature and deep space.Morphologically, Janus stems from the minimal aesthetic of the Protocycladic figurine.
Having worked with figurative shapes so far, the artist takes a step further into abstraction. The sturdy base, planted firmly on the earth, reveals his determination to challenge himself creatively while the large nose-like shape is juxtaposed to the empty space of the head. The slim waste is a homage to his ancient Greek heritage, namely the phenomenon of entasis in the Parthenon columns. As with every Untitled work, the viewer is an integral part of the piece to interpret and expand its meaning.
A primeval vision of the birth of monotheistic religion is presented as a monumental mother figure with a child in her arms. The infant tries to reach her but the look on her eyes is different from what we can expect. She is not a loving, nurturing mother; on the contrary, she looks serious and thoughtful. The woman examines the baby, contemplating the consequences of this new creation. Will it be for better or for worse? This piece stems from his fascination with prehistoric Mesopotamian culture, the birth of civilization, adding another layer to the subject of creation and birth. The figure of the woman comes from the mysterious eye idols of Tell Brak, while her dress as well as the baby’s clothes are adorned with symbols from the first Semitic languages.