Yannis Psychopedis

Antithesis has consistently been a characteristic of Yannis Psychopedis’ work. In his recent paintings, the most prominent contrast is that existing between the uninhibited use of “wild” color and the evidence of a highly controlled method. Formerly employing a more realistic idiom, he now breaks down and distorts the figure. His most engaging quality is the astute manipulation of metaphor, which is contained in the theme of private interior scenes that merge with urban exterior views, and in the uniformity of both the shrill color and the splintered yet tightly-knit surface.

The interior/exterior theme implies the relationship between self and environment: the familiar, personal space set against the unknown, objective world. The interior can also signify the artist’s subjective perception . The broken image speaks of the fragmentary and diverse world of reality, while the overall uniformity of the garish color—a catalytic factor—speaks of the psychological chaos within the self.

The paintings, all part of the “Night in Brussels” series, 1987–88, imply a state of solitary and limpid meditation. The high tonal pitch, intricate structure, and odd transformation of commonplace objects serves to enhance and intensify the work. Night is portrayed as a time of crystalline lucidity, when ideas are brought into sharper focus and thoughts, dreams, and yearnings take on a heightened clarity. Psychopedis blends subtle irony with reticent romanticism. Within the confines of two-dimensional surface, the artist enforces concord between self and environment by imposing—not without conspicuous turmoil—an infrastructure of uniformity. Whereas the artist’s dream of reconciliation with the objective world is pictorially resolved, it remains unattainable because of the illusionistic quality of the canvas.

Catherine Cafapoulos