The second pattern is the innate need to escape.

The small, naked anthropomorphic figures escape the frame of the canvas and substantiate themselves sculpturally off its surface, almost as if trying to escape the border of the artwork. There, they freeze and become mere tokens of their attempt to escape.

Having experienced the traumatic loss of the homeland, one learns how not to attach oneself to national soil. Xchristakos [maintains that he] feels a stranger everywhere and yet found a way to be happy. Voluntary exile and the subsequent loss of the sense of belonging suggests an escapist narrative in his work. I believe that escapism constitutes a most effective way to survive a burdened biography.
escaping men from box - Contemporary art - Xchristakos

The third pattern is the choice to keep the canvas/background white in most of his paintings/sculptures.

The background alludes to the natal geographic topos, which is kept white rejecting any sense of repatriation. The sculptural figures find themselves in a no man’s land. Similarly, Xchristakos defines his studio space as his only home, a place mobile and transferable to every geographical place he decides to settle in.
birdman need to be free - Contemporary art - Xchristakos

In autumn 2011, Xchristakos decided to travel to Istanbul, after almost 40 years of absence. Yet, he could still not face the decision to board the boat to the island.

 

Persefoni Myrtsou is a Greek visual artist living and working between Berlin and Istanbul. She currently completes her thesis on the biography and artistic practice migrating Greek artists in later 20th century at the Institute of Art in Context, University of the Art Berlin.
www.persefoni.co.uk

Biography making artists

by Persefoni Myrtsou
Institute for Art in Context, University of the Arts Berlin, Germany

Xchristakos was born to Greek parents on Büyükada in Istanbul (Pringipos, Prince’s Islands) and grew up in one of Istanbul’s prominent minorities during a time of constant political tension between Greece and Turkey. Under a continuous fear of deportation, he was doomed to permanent exile. In 1974, he voluntarily exiles himself from Istanbul. He travels and lives abroad for many years.

This piece of biographical information became for me the resource to observe his work from a point of view, which allowed me to trace the possible roots of his inspiration, and to place them chronologically, culturally and geographically. His biography was the road to understanding his work.
This process triggered personal affect, relating it to the story of my family, which in turn brings about the following interpretation of the work
.autoportrait - Xchristakos- Contemporary art

 

There are some important repetitive patterns regarding subject matter in Xchristakos’ most recent work:

First is the fear of self-standardisation, boxing oneself within a uniform societal context.

The male faceless figures all wear suits. They are trapped in Plexiglas boxes, tied up with colourful bows, behind security tape, crowding the top of a large column, or behind barcodes.
Figure enclosed behind bar codes - Xchristakos - contemporary art
As a member of a minority group, one comes to terms with the idea of being different and invents mechanisms to survive beyond the norm. Having fought to retain a sense of the self, as an individual belonging to a minority within a homogenizing society, Xchristakos despises attempts to group and standardise oneself. 

 

 

 

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