CM: Though Eva Vasdeki does not specialize in portraiture, nevertheless she has created a nadful of beloved portraits - of people that are familiar and some who have passed away. The portrait of Yannis Paschalidis is of special significance for Vasdeki. Paschalidis was professor of religion at the high school of Pierce College and Vasdeki was very fond of him. She adored him because he was radical. She recalls especially that he emphasized teaching in class and substituted books with the oral word. The first question he raised to his students was "what happiness means to you?", which made an indelible impression on her and she still remembers him for putting her in such a mode of thought. He had an alternative method of teaching, for which he was loved by all his students. Being there for his students even outside class, he was foremost a friend before being a professor.
No sooner had Paschalidis chanced upon early artworks by Vasdeki than he was convinced that she came to the world as a painter and that God has destined her to paint. He took every opportunity to admit her talent in painting and that was born to do exactly that. Indeed, being residents in the same region of Psychiko, Paschalidis had asked Vasdeki to paint all the walls of his house! Upon asking him what he would prefer her to paint, Paschalidis entrusted Vasdeki with absolute liberty. But the project did not materialize because the Paschalidis passed away prematurely in 1993, at the age of about forty, a couple of years after Vasdeki's graduation and before her admission to the School of Fine Arts in Athens. Feeling gratitude towards her favorite professor, whose words filled her with inspiration, Vasdeki created this characteristic portrait in his honor.
The portrait was made from a photograph taken in the three-day excursion of the high school in Corfu island. Here Paschalidis wears a simple dark shirt. All of the portrait's other features were characteristic of his own - the tousled hair, the glasses that magnified his eyes, and his optimistic smile towards life. Vasdeki acknowledges the difficulty of creating a portrait with a smile because it approximates the limits of kitsch. However, in this case Paschalidis' beautiful smile underlines a truth about his personality.
Notwithstanding Paschalidis' appearance, Vasdeki aimed to represent the aura of a distinctive man, who visited Mount Sinai and got to feel the roots of Christianity. This portrait materialized with loose and quick brushstrokes, expressing Paschalidis as a man incompatible with the conventions of life and open to all - willing to ignore his personal affairs and to lend an ear over the problems of others. Vasdeki distorted the picture's forms with colors that are found in hagiography. She endowed the painting with light that originates from behind things and radiates beyond them. Thinking of Yannis Paschalidis in connection to light, Vasdeki created a bright portrait of an enlightened personality.
[Megakles Rogakos 06/2008]
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES Silent Dialogues: Multimedia Portraits Throughout Time 2008 The American College of Greece, Athens