NICHOLAS SMYRNIOS was born in Edessa (Greece) and raised in Thessaloniki, by parents who were both Asia Minor refugees. He developed a keen interest in art at a very early age. As a teenager he found inspiration among artists like Peter Blake, Richard Avedon and Klaus Woormann, whose work he discovered thanks to the music of the Beatles and the vivid artistic atmosphere around them.

During the regime of the Greek military junta, Smyrnios immigrated to Stockholm, Sweden, where he studied on a state scholarship, at the Institute of Graphic Arts and the National College of Art & Design, a school which was founded on the principles of Bauhaus and is still considered the heart of Scandinavian Design. He graduated 1981, after completing a five year program in visual communication design.

The dramatic sociopolitical and cultural climate of the late 60s and early 70s, brought on the art scene the vigorous movement of critical realism which also affected Smyrnios quite strongly. He focused mainly on the conceptual character of his work, as his studies were basically drawn more towards visual communication and modern media (photography, video, graphics) and less on matters of painting styles and traditional techniques. One of the characteristics of critical realism was the artist's liberation from the pressure of creating a personal style, (a trend called "style-less style painting" by the American art critics). On the contrary, the choice of subject and its philosophical approach by the artist were crucial issues in critical realism. Smyrnios' themes from those years have efficiently resisted time, remaining up to date, as they deal with problems about which we still concern today.

During this period he conceived and materialized the works of his first important exhibition that took place in the Spring of 1983 at Kulturhuset, the great cultural center of the Swedish capital. Among the works exhibited there, the Eternal Greek occupied a distinguished position, but also other works attracted the attention of the public ("Suffocating Caryatid", "Heroic and Elegiac", "Discoteque Athene", "The Tourist", "Invalid Girl Selling Lottery Tickets"; they can be seen in this website (page "older works")). By creating these specific works he tried to acknowledge his own identity and to find his historical and cultural origins. By this way he was led to the art of other Mediterranean artists like the hard edged realism of Renato Guttuso (Italy, 1911-1987) and the narrative criticism of Equipo Cronica (Manolo Valdes and Rafael Solbes, Valencia, 1964-1981) which was the contemporary art that he mostly admired at that time. Equipo Cronica's Pop Art aesthetics will have a strong influence on him in the future.

While studying art and design, Smyrnios became fascinated by the abstract geometric genres of art and mainly by the work of Frank Stella and Victor Vasarely. Using again the rich Greek tradition  as a source of ideas, he created a series of experimental paintings/installations, depicting various geometric theorems and philosophical principles of the main Greek mathematicians and philosophers. The "Pythagorean I" is the most important work of this original series, where the square has the protagonist role, whereas the colors correlate to the ancient Greek painting. These works were exhibited by several occasions in both Sweden and Greece.

Nicholas Smyrnios continued his research on the significant role of Geometry in art and when later he started using digital media, he created "The Archetypes", an animated video about the psychological power of the archetype forms, inspired by Angeles Arrien's book "Shapes of Life". This video was part of the exhibition "Archetypes" which was organized by the Goethe Institute of Thessaloniki in November 2001, where Smyrnios presented more of his digital geometric creations.

Being continuously connected to the representational art, but at the same time attracted by the visual power of geometric abstraction, he tried for years to find an efficient way for combining harmoniously elements from Pop and Op art. The balance between the figurative and the abstract, as well as the combination of the two different philosophies was not at all an easy matter to deal with.

Finally, liberated from the sterile theoretical dogmatism, Smyrnios succeeded by developing some truly innovative techniques, to achieve a completely unique visual language which he uses today to create sophisticated works of higher aesthetic standards, artistic value and genuine originality.

Like other pop artists, Smyrnios expresses his view of the times above all through the use of the portrait. His models are the idols of a glorious era, mainly rock and film stars, who later became icons and symbols of ideals within the global ethical and cultural tradition. Ideals like freedom, peace, brotherhood, justice, progress, harmony and beauty. He uses his experience from the graphic arts to produce posters, or paintings which seem like posters, following the pop art tradition, as pop art is closer to the graphic arts than any other art movement. Smyrnio's confident handling of formal techniques derives from his graphic design professional background and from his work as a teacher. From 1986 he teaches graphic design and it is, in fact, his professionalism in the use of applied design which gives his pictures their character, pictures in which one can find his own views reflected. As a graphic artist he knows very well the laws of visual perception, which he uses to create optical interest in his art. By this means he approaches op art and tries to balance it with his pop art philosophy.

Op art and its sophisticated characteristics add extra quality to Smyrnio's work. He still gets inspired by his early years idols, the Beatles, as their music has been proved immortal, reflecting both "high" culture and subculture, both the trivial and the remarkable. The achievement of a similar combination is Smyrnio's constant pursuit, when he uses both pop and op art elements. In this case, Pop Art represents the trivial while Op Art represents the remarkable.       









The sum of the angles in every planar triangle is 180 degrees. 

Pythagorean I. Oil on canvases 60x60, 80x80 and 100x100 cm. 1981.

 Pythagorean II. Digital work, 2005.





 She Loves You. Mixed media painting on aluminum plate 78x51 cm, 2011. 



 

 

 

 

© NICHOLAS SMYRNIOS. All rights reserved.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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