Ecstatic Breath Of Freedom

Ecstatic Breath Of Freedom by Greek painter Nikos Kypraios is his second solo show here. In May last year, his work was exhibited at Sculpture Square.

In these 25 recent works from a series he started in 2010, he uses fish to symbolise humanity whose voice has been muzzled by media noise, material pursuits and global economies in a tailspin. The works, he says, are his way of urging "viewers to be mindful of the state of the world" as well as "the suppression of nature that is endangering our very ability to live and breathe".

Where: Gallery, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane

When: Tomorrow - May 6, 11am - 7pm daily

Admission: Free

MRT: City Hall/Raffles Place

Tel: 6332-6900


1 FISH, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cm

This series of fish paintings was conceived around the theme of the moral and financial malaise in southern Europe, specifically in Greece, where the artist spends his time. In 2010, the Greek financial crisis sparked global market chaos and threatened to engulf the eurozone.

2 FISH, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cm

A lone fish appears swimming in front of a sea of apartment blocks, referencing the stresses and pressures faced by ordinary people to service their apartment mortgages. Battered by the Greek fiscal crisis, some lost their livelihood and their homes.

3 FISHES, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cm

Layers of paint and fish make up this work. The artist decided to use oil on paper instead of on board or canvas to get a more intense, layered effect. In this painting, the fish are shown fighting for their survival, alluding to the modern-day struggle to make ends meet.

4 FISH, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cm

An orange fish swims in a dark sea. The expression it bears is a mix of shock, surprise and sadness. The artist says having closely watched communities in Greece, he has seen for himself how unprepared they were and the kind of shock that registered when deep austerity packages were imposed in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

5 FISH, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cms

As the financial crisis in Greece rapidly unfolded, analysts tried to make sense of why the woes of a tiny nation could have such an impact on the rest of the world. Gillian Tett, a Financial Times columnist, wrote that "if the entire country were to vanish under the sea tomorrow, the global economy would barely shudder".

It got the artist thinking of the many possibilities previously thought to be ludicrous. This is how a fish showed up swimming among trees.

6 FISHES, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cms

What happens in one place no longer impacts just one country alone, says Kypraios. He paints a complex interconnected world where different elements come together and even in the seeming chaos, they can somehow co-exist

7 FISH, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cms The crisis also got the artist thinking about how connected global economies are. In 2010, as the economists blamed Greece for putting the survival of the Euro at stake, he imagined a fish shielded from all the harm in the world through a blue circle around it.

8 FISH, 2010
Oil on paper, 70x100cms

The artist's underlying message is one of optimism and confidence that people can overcome any crisis - financial, emotional or otherwise. He portrays this through his art by showing a lone fish in calm waters.

This article was published on April 25 in The Straits Times.

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