CM: The Unknown Hero of Vangelis Tzermias is part of The Vision series of the period 1999-2001, whose theme is about well known and annonymous fighters of the Greek Revolution of 1821. Tzermias recalls how impressed he was when visiting the National Gallery at a young age he saw historical paintings by Volanakis and Vryzakis and other painters of this romantic and lyrical period. Especially as he was born in fearless Crete, the national conscience of the heir of Greek history was doubtless inherent in Tzermias. However, his interest in the spirit of 1821 was not nationalist. He strongly feels identifying with the psychology of the heroes of the Revolution, for whom the motive was not simply the Turkish target, but the resulting Freedom. Freedom is an excellent ideal, which makes man overcome his boundaries, the bodily as well as the psychological ones, with heroic self-sacrifice. It is interesting to heed the artist's confession, that he became one with the heroes he was painting at the time he created them. "I was painting the portrait of Makriyannis and felt like going through the process of taking a risk, like himself." Deep down, perhaps it is such a process that is more of a portrait than the material that reproduces a face on the canvas - a psychological version of portraiture.
Tzermias found the faces that constitute The Vision in the communication he had with the old masters. The present face is of unknown identity but of a known history. The painting that inspired him was a historical work by a European painter, which represents a Greek fighter in action riding his horse. From this work Tzermias chose to select the bust of the man in profile with his moustache, the fez, the shirt rich with buttons, tussels and embroidery. Though their representation is just about recognizable, these elements show off strongly the identity of the fighter, the mark of time and the characteristics of Greek tradition.
The only way for the artist to find his freedom is by harnessing the tools of art. Tzermias paints with freedom through an inner discipline. He gives the painting structure and axes, which he subsequently shutters with absolute control. He sees the painting like an edifice removed from feeling, which is why his art does not really comply with expressionism. The Unknown Hero came about with spontaneous and brave brushstrokes that betray a sure and well-founded knowledge of design. The painting was completed with no sketches in advance, because the final picture was already in the artist's mind. The result was a gestural painting with great charge.
With The Vision Tzermias wanted to fight the "chaos of today" which questions age-old ideals and values. Sought to bring back to resurface in our time the historical memory of the principles onto which the high concept of freedom is founded. Thus, Tzermias pays tribute to the fighters who sacrificed themselves for the ideal of freedom. In so doing he gave new breath to a familiar subject. He went back into the past in a contemporary way, using a new 'vocabulary'. He evoked in a 19th century subject the quality of 'action films' of the 21st century. He referenced the warring period of 1821 through today's eyes. The Vision provided the solution to the issues brought froth by heroes anywhere. Tzermias connects 1821 with the mutual vision of freedom, which spans the ages. The heroes that Tzermias painted are the 'Free Besieged' (after the poem of Dionysios Solomos) who feed the vision of every freedom fighter, now and forever.
[Megakles Rogakos 07/2007]
ILIOPOULOU-ROGAN, DORA Vangelis Tzermias: The Vision 2002 Adam Gallery, Athens
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES Silent Dialogues: Multimedia Portraits Throughout Time 2008 The American College of Greece - ACG Art, Athens