The dazzling promise of light in the opaque mineral


Sculptors are often prisoners of their own material. In order to overcome their technical difficulties, they may make more concessions than painters. Even when the material is tamed, and the idea embodied, the danger of falling into the stiff academic manner as a consequence of their technique remains present. The unavoidable repetition awaits them: the sculpture, classical in particular, lingers when installed in a style and inevitably becomes boring.

The sculpture of Fanakidis provokes a pleasant surprise to us. The sculptor, although he remains classic, is not become rigid overall. He plays with the form, he goes from the figurative to abstract and from abstract to figurative. He uses polyester, but bronze, cement and stone altogether. He moves between small and large formats, horizontal and vertical, tranquillity and agitation, organic and biomorphic forms to the hardness of large abstract edges. Faithful to formalism, he does not allow to himself the conveniences of collage, the assemblage of heterogeneous already prepared elements. He refuses any appropriation and remains the sole master and creator of his material and its forms. Obviously, he works in the long term and his sculptures are exposed as works that will withstand time and will become museum pieces.

The very idea of the ephemeral seems unfamiliar to him; yet the imprint of two metal mesh bodies, image of perpetual motion as well as fragile, caress the wall of his studio. In the same workshop, we can see the most contradictory things. A large, monumental, work next to another, much lighter, which seems barely in balance: an athlete runs, one front foot in the ground, the other back foot bent upward, expressing a move that could please Boccioni.

The model for the Monument of Gorgopotamos (the railway bridge exploded by the Greek resistance in 1942): a sort of passage skilfully oriented, which demonstrates a deep understanding of the geographical position. It is suggested to the viewer to cross the imposing and abstract organised shapes and to penetrate in the opaque mineral to find, after an obscure path, the dazzling promise of light.

It is difficult to identify a specific style in Fanakidis. If he had one, it would rather be the refusal of style, the polyphony, the constant research, especially the introspective. The need must become apparent, the impression must be expressed.

Overall, his works of art are tinted with an expressionistic and symbolic outline in addition to a central European spirit, since we know that the sculptor made his artistic debut in Bulgaria. These same trends, timid and allusive at first, grew to become more exposed later on.

His current works are less restrained, even provocative: the rooted man with a monstrous foot, but in particular the "cry of the wolf", which could be a tribute to Francis Bacon.

Everything in this sculpture adds up to the most painful expression of the instinct. The body, naked and consumed, does not have arms or legs. The erection is terrible. The wolf's head facing upward pushes a plaintive howl. All the horrible loneliness of the exposed instinct bursts without restraint. The theme of the oppressed nature, which is often found in Fanakidis' earlier sculptures, of the human elements crushed under the weight of technological city, acquires here a new form, dramatic but also rebellious. The cry of the wolf is the signal and the redeeming message of a sculpture which expresses the contemporary anxiety but at the same time requires its own space and autonomy.

Eurydice Trichon-Milsani