by Maria Bacha
When I face one of Stefanos Rokos’s works, I feel just like waiting for a beloved one at the airport Arrivals Gate. Standing still, my eyes fixed on the sliding doors, with anticipation and a slight anxiety, not only for the waves of the crowd, the colours, the movement, but for what he will bring along in his details, what countenance, what mental associations, what cultures, what relations, what losses. The works of Rokos generate exactly the same feelings in me, as I face the rhythmical masses of colourful matter that are unleashed onto the material medium, the pulsating details and the marks. And when I look at the work from a distance, in its entirety, it’s like the opening of the doors, when the person I’ve been waiting for appears and on that face a meaning is created for the somewhat chaotic experience I had had up to that moment.
Stefanos Rokos has been collaborating with architect Antiopi Pantazi for some time, for the “transcription” of his works into embroideries.
Reflecting the development of Antiopi’s personal artistic code to the ultimate degree, as well as the mature creative relationship between the two artists, the embroidered version of And No More Shall We Part stands succulent, ripe and dynamic. The work is a source of aesthetic pleasure to the viewer diving into its quiet world, but it also registers within it an artistic act, the time of which starts to count the moment the first thread went through the eye of the first needle. Taking one step further the idea that “every embroidery traces out the embroiderer as well”, here we have a tracing out, stitch by stitch, of the time, the collaboration, the persistence and, ultimately, of a faith in Art and Life.
Antiopi stands firmly in the long Greek tradition of weaving and embroidery – “one of the most important branches of Greek handicraft” . The artistic vision of S.R. is distilled, and its materialisation is achieved by means of A.P.’s technical and artistic algorithms – the needlework, but also the collage of sturdier materials, such as a solid white surface and the bronze net, that function contrapuntally, underscoring the supple texture of the threads. Her hands that stitched, glued and fixed are felt everywhere in the embroidered room, they are there alongside the hands pressing on the velvety keys of the piano we hear – and, finally, the room, enwrapped in the echo of the namesake song, although devoid of physical, human presence, pulsates with those profound human imprints.
Maria Bacha, May 2018
1. Amalia Megapanou, Designs from Greek embroideries, Benaki Museum, 1981.
2. Helen Polychroniadis, Greek embroideries, Benaki Museum, 1980.