Artist/Maker: Kostas Kampouropoulos (1939-2018)
Object/Materials and Techniques: Oil on canvas
Date: Painted between 2007-2016
Dimensions: H. 90 cm. x W. 70 cm.
Art style: Portraiture/Romantic elements with figurative manner/Abstract art
Current Location: Private collection
Curator’s note:Here is a spectacular drawing up of Kostas Kampouropoulos’ characteristic features of his very personal vernacular regarding colour selectivity, lack of outlines and dreamy conception. Another tale-based work of attractive depiction reflects all the senses and invites the audience to transcend to another scenery; a scenery that springs from fantasy based on prose narrative or traditional story, accepted as history, like the myth of Santa Claus. Inspired by literature, poetry, history, music, opera, theatre, of which he was passionate, Kostas Kampouropoulos likes to display narratives of such interests, as a means of communicating spirituality.
It is fitting that, in the painting herein, interconnected emotions likely taken, on the one hand, from memories and realities of the childhood and on the other hand from the vitality of the Santa Claus fairy-tale, balance between reality and utopia; total in an overall atmospheric haze that provokes a strong evocative effect to the viewer and underpins the imagination.
The audience travels back in time, in some other ‘space-time’, maybe in the city streets of a European capital where the Santa Claus has just arrived. ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’. The moody hued colours -artist’s favourite palette- suggest perhaps the black streets of Victorian London at very late hours of the night, as described artfully in Charles Dickens’ masterpiece A Christmas Carol, one of the most popular and best-loved books of all times. Kostas Kampouropoulos admired and was very much inspired by English authors of the era, especially by Charles Dickens and his skilful writing. Even the variety of tumours with the dominant figure of Santa Claus, in the middle of the painting, recalls the gigantic size of the Spirit of Christmas in Charles Dickens’ novel that ‘accommodate himself to any place with ease’ despite his magnitude.
Notable is the wise peaceful look on the face of super-natural Santa, with Kostas Kampouropoulos capitalizing on the primal and emblematic status of his subject in order to foreground wisdom and peace. The artist creates an impressive vision of a timeless symbol associated with the most festive and divine epoch of the year in seeking to raise consciousness. Undoubtedly, his prime intention is to underscore the social and moral overtone of the season of Goodwill -like the Britain novelist succeeded in delivering ages back- emphasizing on the prospect of joint faith and perpetual peace, the message hallmark of Christendom.
A message the artist interprets also through the depicted dreamy-like scene of the background that refers to the Nativity of Jesus with an angel figure, up right, announcing the divine biblical episode that takes place across up left, and the wise looking Santa Claus in the role of the Three Magi, also known and referred as the (Three) Wise Men with gifts. As a result, a tale narrative merges masterfully with the most significant religious recite, in front of the viewer’s eyes, in a high attempt of the artist to capture the majesty of the season in its entity.
By strongly conveying ‘the reality of the unseen’ through both the suggestively dynamic symbols and traditional patrons of Christmas, Santa Claus and New-born Jesus, Kostas Kampouropoulos bridges gently and brings into consonance both grand ‘sagas’ regarding the Christmas Day along with their meaningful and powerful messages towards humanity.
Curator’s highlight detail: The dark earthly colours that prevail, in combination with various versions of ‘Van Dyck’ coffee, the mainstay of the composition, is contrasted with the white vague shadow of the dreamy-like background, as well as, with Kostas Kampouropoulos’ characteristic use of sienna (reddish hue) on Santa’s bonnet and on Angel’s/Archangel’s halo, giving the painting a distinct classical splendour and a mysterious Christmas ’aura.