Erotic signed and dated 'NIKOS 81' (lower center) mixed media on canvas 180 x 130 cm
Literature: Nikos Kessanlis, editing by G. Tzirtzilakis, Adam Editions, Athens 1998, p. 409 (illustrated).
Wonderfully provocative and impishly poetic, Kessanlis daring Erotic portrays a monumental nude of great carnal power and sensual intensity 1 painted on her back with her closed eyes and half-open mouth barely discernible in the upper left corner and her luscious body exposed in a way strongly reminiscent of Gustave Courbets famous and shockingly realistic LOrigine du Monde, 1866. Severely distorted and manipulated, the image undermines the conventional reading of a pornographic still, reflecting the artists intent to both appropriate and deconstruct the codes of an established subculture tradition.
Nikos wanted to paint the female body using means offered by modern technology. Enriched by his previous Phantasmagoria experience, he proceeded with remoulding, reforming and distorting the female body. From the female model he reshapes a human female. He gives her back all the pleasure, beauty and tragic import of the female body during love making. He tosses a still life out the window and reshapes it into an erotic landscape full of life. 2
This life-affirming yet raw and earthy pantheistic work incorporates found objects, such as weathered wood, nails or torn and layered posters, using the residue of life as an art medium. These humble materials that shape everyday urban experience, not only tie this work to the real world and the poetry of the street, they increase its power; for Kessanlis, the poverty of his means had an inverse relation to their beauty and emotive impact, a sensibility he shared with Joseph Beuys and the artists of the Italian arte povera. In this act of transformation the artist assumes the role of the alchemist or shaman who fashions a magic world out of the commonest of means.
1. T. Moutsopoulos, Nikos Kessanlis [in Greek], Ta Nea publ., Athens 2009, p. 43. 2. C. Romanos, 'The Erotic Pictures of Nikos Kessanlis' [in Greek], Playboy magazine (Greek edition), no.33, December 1987