In 2019, just before the outburst of the pandemic, Stefanos Rokos traveled for ten days to Japan. On the occasion of this journey, he created this series of works capturing in a wonderous way “a world of tension and eroticism, allusive gestures and powerful signs, disparate conjunctions, and contrasting representations”*. Kostas Christopoulos, visual artist, assistant professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts and one of the book’s authors writes: “Rokos creates a personal visual “log”, not to reveal something “foreign” to us, something perhaps we have never seen before, but to multiply the potential renditions and to offer us in an original and imaginative way additional manifestations of the already familiar.
There is nothing “outside” the world depicted in his work. Everything is “within” it. And yet, that world does not seem unitary, indivisible, and homogeneous. It retains something paradoxical, a continuum of differences and repetitions. Such sort of a location is Japan as Rokos portrays it in his painting. “The two temples”, the title of this new series of his works, can be understood in this way as well. One “temple”, that of Buddhism, is counterposed to another one, that of Shintoism.
Colours, shapes, drawings and forms that Rokos uses are often in contrast with each other, creating diverging representations on the same painted surface. Something analogous to that also happens with the multiple narratives on it”.
The artist himself writes “In my painting, the ghosts of Japanese mythology become one with the ghosts in my mind. Personal stories, moments of inner struggle, and a constant excited curiosity prevail. I feel that I become, for a while, part of a riveting culture, and I try to share this chaos with someone who is not there” […] “In that long walk, strolling through the two devotional complexes, I thought of the harmonious coexistence around us of Shinto and Buddhism, shaped by their idiosyncrasies, the norms and the forms of the temples with their sharply contrasting characters; just like two people. Even now, I find this similitude between temples and people intriguing. I could be any one of those two temples”.
*Extract from the Press Release edited by Stereoma Editions for the purpose of the publication of the bilingual book “The two temples” by Stefanos Rokos, 2022.
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