Artist/Maker: Kostas Kampouropoulos (1939-2018)
Object/Materials and Techniques: Oil on Canvas
Date: Painted between 2007-2016
Dimensions: H. 40 cm. x W. 30 cm.
Art style: Portraiture / Romantic Elements / Expressionistic Structures / Abstract Art
Current Location: Private collection
Curator’s note: A profile posed portrait of a Scottish Cavalry Officer in his typical uniform, with reference to the Royal Highlanders Guard of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (a distinct unit of the British Army).
The painting is characterized by the style of romanticism with emphasis on individualism and intense emotion, as an authentic source of aesthetic experience that culminates to the glorification of the past. Greatly inspired by history which he was fond of studying, Kostas Kampouropoulos chose consciously to introduce a Scottish Cavalry Officer into the legacy of what might someone would call art-historical oeuvres.
The painting relies within the framework of a special category of commemorative works with respect to the Hellenic Revolt. It can be deemed as an implicit reference to the expeditionary forces that the British allies sent to Hellas during the Hellenic War of Independence, widely known as the Struggle of Hellas against the Ottoman Empire, in the early 19th century between 1821-1830. It surely concerns the spectre of authority, and the decisive intervention of the Great Powers of the time (England, France, Germany, Russia) to the Hellenic War of Liberation, claiming, in fact, a major role in Hellenic politics. Heroes, portraits, narratives and chronicles, related to the Struggle of the artist’s ancestral country Hellas against the Turkish rule, become central focus of this particular series in a high attempt to reveal the brilliant historical occasion and significant calendar date.
In this sense, the present three/quarter portrait, within the very typical minimalistic practice and personal aesthetic of Kostas Kampouropoulos as regards the lack of outlines and the overall moody hued atmosphere, addresses the audience exclusively with what was intended to be felt as the personal historical voice of the artist; a voice that becomes a kind of visual poem through the use of a similarly restrained, yet favourite palette of broad black and brown planes, in combination with a largely changeover of dark earthly colours and various versions of ‘Van Dyke’ coffee, contrasted by asymmetrical tones of grey.
As a result, Kostas Kampouropoulos succeeds critically in granting the portrayal work a special sense of timeless glory. His minimalistic approach focusses on the display of the ‘essence’ of the historic officer, and creates a contemplative mood that allows it to be best appreciated by the viewer.
Today, the art-historical paintings by Kostas Kampouropoulos with regards to the Hellenic War of Independence make up a group of great importance in the entirety of the artist’s total output. They act catalytically as a powerful reminder of national history, plus encompass different levels of consciousness, leading to an alert cognitive state of mind.
Curator’s highlight detail: Kostas Kampouropoulos enhances the overall composition with an allure of distinct classical splendour while suggesting an accentuated dramatic aura by employing his favourite and very distinctive motif of sienna (a reddish hue) that further underscores the historical era.