Image Analysis of Nikos Gyftakis’ work

The Greek artist Nikos Gyftakis created a series of swirling distorted large scale self-portraits using oil pastels.

Oil pastel on canvas 160 X 120 cm (2004)

Oil pastel on canvas 160 X 120 cm (2004)

In this work the artist’s face is expressing possibly painful embarrassment mixed with disbelief. The work allows for multiple readings of is expression and gaze’s focus. The face is cropped extremely tightly and has a compressed feeling of entrapment as the artist’s hands not only frame but even advance into and impact the face, squishing one eye and distorting the mouth. The work uses mostly muted warm colours, which may point to embarrassment (blushing), with the cooler and darker tones reserved for shadows. The work is unique for a self-portrait for the main focus is not on the eyes but rather on the tip of the nose which is placed in the very center from which the viewer’s eyes shift down to the highly contrasted red lips and then back up and all about the canvas.

Gyftakis’s work is a conglomeration of smaller lines used to create a robust dimensional topographical map of his hands and face with colourful swirls similar to Van Gogh’s painting style. There are no hard contour lines but rather everything is turned into organic shapes which the inner line-work forms – see the top half of the lip forms a hook shape. The face practically pops out of the page and forces the viewer to have a physical reaction of wanting to touch the squishy forms or to almost feel the finger’s impact on their own face. One might find themselves able to stare at this complex piece endlessly and still find new shapes and details.

More of Gyftakis’ work and the rest of his series of self-portraits can be found on his website: http://www.nikosgyftakis.com/index.html

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