Athens, Greece-based artist HOPE is well-known for his use of large-format collaged pieces, both in the streets and in the gallery. Taking the ruins of the classical sculptures of his homeland, HOPE returns these images to decaying buildings, using large stickers applied outdoors. Though he found his fame in the streets of Athens, the mixed-media artist has been transitioning towards exhibiting his works more indoors, both in decrepit public spaces and in white-walled galleries. Describing his style of using and remixing classical and recognizable sculpture, HOPE says, “My works are marked by mythology. They are sculptural images inspired from the past with a new aesthetic rule.”
HOPE continues, “What interests me about street art and public art, in general, is that it can exist as a forum/platform for dialogue. We live and think within the public space. When you place an artwork in the public domain, you’re interacting with the public. This makes you think about the public order. You’re given the opportunity to express your opinion politically and sociologically through a work, the longevity of which is determined according to the public opinion… But the main reason I got involved in street art was the feeling that I was creating an anti-monument, a new kind of creative model which escapes private places. Sometimes, when public art is effective, it can even change the world.” (via artnau and yatzer)
Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”
With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.” This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.
When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”