Nick Cominos

Seeing Elytis
Doggett Street Studio, Brisbane

Nick Cominos's three large-scale paintings presented at his fifth solo exhibition, seeing Elytis, could be seen as the artist's response to the epic poem Axion Esti, by modern Greek poet Odysseus Elytis.1 Aesthetically, these new paintings are a natural progression from the artist's previous works; they bring together the highly structured formalism of his works from 1995-96 and the expressionistic 'vibration' of his smaller pieces of 1996. This development has led to a rich interlayering of colour and form creating in the paintings a projected plane in which the viewer is drawn to experience light and space.

In Axion Esti, Elytis employs the evocative style of surrealism and the symbolic wealth of an ancient language to capture the spirit of Greek culture and its inter-relationship with the natural environment. The poem is a masterly combination of autobiographical and historical references, which emerge through phrases and words originating from ancient, Hellenistic, demodic and modern Greek.

Similarly to Elytis, Cominos's three paintings in the exhibition (Love's Blood/the Origin of Landscape, The Age of Blue Memory/the River and Yellow Justice/Light) explore the relationship between culture and landscape. The landscape in this instance is not simply interpreted as a physical environment; its perception is informed by the artist's knowledge and understanding of the history and culture which has evolved from the relationship between people and place. This is also suggested by the dual titles of these works which refer to both the Axion Esti and essential landscape elements.

To the viewer who is familiar with Greek culture and Elytis's poem, the works may convey ideas or provoke visual experiences which are intrinsically Greek - for example the luminous glow of Yellow Justice/Light is reminiscent of the golden surface of the Byzantine icons. Whether the viewer identifies with Greek culture or not, however, the works remain beautiful pieces of abstraction and a departure point for the creation of personal 'mindscapes'.