Introduction to Andreas Nicolaou's Work

Egidio Maria Eleuteri

The general influences present in Andreas Nicolaou's artistic production show definite points in common with past artists and works.

Cross reference - from Jacques-Louis David's Marat assassiné to his symbolist style ethereal complexions - is never used for cross reference's sake but is aimed at establishing a dialogue with previous figurative art creations. This ideal continuity places his work at the centre of an ongoing debate regarding the depiction of the human form and the relations it maintains both inside and outside the form. And indeed the human form is the hinge that holds Nicolaou's pictorial corpus together. His celebration of the body does not stop at hedonistic flattery but probes beyond this to examine the deepest-rooted reasons which underpin the very concept of physicality. The artist sidesteps the trite dictates of academicism to offer a powerful and vibrant style of painting featuring measured changes of light and shade. The body - simulacrum of pain and pleasure- positioned in the foreground stands out against dark, impenetrable backgrounds. Restless and at the same time motionless, the figures are the unquestionable protagonists of the space they find themselves in - spreading out, rising up, stretching out, a procession of uncontrolled movements. The struggle between matter and spirit almost seems to be transformed into a dance featuring Pindaric flights followed by complete, total stillness.

Similar to certain examples of Romanticism and in particular Blake and Fuseli, Nicolaou's art shows an unquestionable commitment, firmly linked to the concerns of today's world.

In both the interior scenes - for the most part studio portraits - and in his more visionary works (see Twins, 2000 or Lovers, 2000) it is always the sense of drama which captures the observer's attention. Intense and alienating, the drama winds its way through shapes and colours, filled areas and blank spaces, light and dark. Movements and stances are marked by giddiness and unease imbuing the images with ill-concealed throbbing and thrusting.

On the whole, Nicolaou's work must be viewed as a consistent and deep reflection on the existential condition and is convincing by virtue of a hard-fought authenticity on his part.

Egidio Maria Eleuteri
Art Historian, Rome

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