“I am a painter but my soul is of a humble marbler,
who invests his force in toiling while the material
Alekos Kirarinis, proficient in the longstanding and very prominent on the island of Tinos craft of marble carving1 and quite knowledgeable on byzantine art and iconography, as well as on the contemporary art scene, has managed to develop an absolutely groundbreaking and very modern form of expression. He masterfully incorporates in his works –in a more or less subtle way- multiple elements of the cultural heritage of his birth place, while retaining his personal traits as progressive visual artist, which he acquired from his long training and career at the School of Fine Arts in Athens. Iconographic patterns imprinted deeply on his character from the very onset of his artistic career manifest themselves in his paintings and are transformed into contemporary visual compositions of particular significance. The artist actually implements an original and unconventional representational art form, intellectual and insightful, which is characterized by the solidity of his compositions, the harshness of his lines, his precision in the arrangement of the various thematic schemes, as well as his sensitivity in the depiction of essential details. Dedicated to the use of egg tempera on specially prepped wood surfaces, he makes the most of the great many plastic qualities available to him by this technique, from the possibility of depicting the tiniest detail to the plethora of color gradations. Kirarinis creates thus works of art, which are not only extremely resilient, but also display a refreshing aesthetic approach thereby revealing timeless visual and multiple existential quests. Deeply devoted to his art, he handles his subjects with great sensitivity and manages to amaze us every time with the quality of his work, the power of his artistic expression and the effect of his unusual narrative on his viewers.
The works in the Tinos exhibition titled “Angel and Dragon” deal with man’s relentless internal fight between that which is fortunate and that which is unfortunate, creative and destructive, beneficial and detrimental. As the artist himself states: “Good and evil go together in the postlapsarian world… My paintings depict the triumph, the victory of good over evil, incorporated into a poetic resulting from the clarity of patterns and architectural elements.” The bright and dark sides of the human soul, the eternal, dubious rapport with the opponent of evil and the proponent of good are incorporated in his art and depicted iconographically in a symbolic way. By way of good luck the exhibition of these contemporary works by A. Kirarinis is housed in the Old Granary of the village of Triantaros, a postmodern space of unique design, which retains a lot of the traditional architectural elements of the island of Tinos. Hence the viewer has the opportunity to experience timeless traditional forms together with unique creative manifestations and aesthetic delights. As Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote: “We can see the diversity of human cultures behind us, around us, before us. The only demand that we can justly make (entailing corresponding duties for every individual) is that all forms this diversity may take may be so many contributions to the fullness of all the others.”2
The exhibition of Alekos Kirarinis is organized in a wonderful vacation house on Tinos island, after the kind agreement of its owners, A Touch of New / Vacation House.
The house in Triantaros, inspired by the traditional architecture of the built pigeon houses of Tinos and the way they used to build the additions by height, is perceived as a two – zone house whose zones function complementary.
Seeking the least intervention in the landscape, the architectural suggestion, which is modern but at the same time critically traditional, consists of the harmonious incorporation/swing of a cube from unpainted concrete on the existing stone mass.
The horizontal opening that is created between the existing old and new, enriches the place with natural light and creates optical escapes with the view of the skyline. Simultaneously, the big square opening in front of the living room functions as a screen that releases the view and at the same time is the junction between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’.
The existing stone from Tinos on the ground floor alternates with grey-brown plaster of the additions trying to separate the old from the new. Thus, the house introduces a modern architectural vocabulary in a harmonious mix of the traditional and the new character of the Greek landscape.
The house was designed by Aristidis Ntalas and has received important reviews so far. It was chosen by the Architectural Awards of the Greek Institute of Architecture 2013-2017, ‘Domes Awards’ 2018 and it was also one of the 3 works that brought their creator to one of the 40 best upcoming architects in Europe in the Europe 40 under 40 Architecture and Design Award. It was constructed by the Construction Company of Dimitrios Louvaris in Tinos.
1. The traditional craft of marble carving of Tinos was included in UNESCO’s catalogue for the intangible heritage of mankind, due to its distinct and numerous expressions. ^
2. Strauss, Claude Lévi, Race and History, United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization. Unesco, Paris 1952, p. 49. ^
Untitled egg tempera on wood, 28x23 cm