Xenofon Bitsikas

Bitsikas Xenofon

Born in Ioannina in 1963, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student under Dimosthenis Kokkinidis (1988-1994). He pursued his studies with a thesis at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (1994-2000) on a Greek State Scholarships Foundation grant. He received another Greek State Scholarships Foundation grant to proceed with his post-doctoral research (2001-2003). He has won various awards in Greek and international painting competitions. Works by him have been acquired by the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum, the Fundació Ynglada Guillot Real Academia de Bellas Artes San Jordi in Barcelona, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, the Spyropoulos Museum, the Vorres Museum, the Frissiras Museum. He is a Professor at the Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences, University of Ioannina and as of 2015 he has been appointed Dean of the Department. He lives and works in Ioannina.


Solo Exhibitions


Almost – Between Alma Contemporary Art Gallery Trikala


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Spyropoulos Museum Athens


Painter Xenofon Bitsikas and the “Human Comedy”

Xenofon Bitsikas is a young artist who possesses a rare privilege for his age: self-knowledge. Since his graduation he clearly showed that he had discovered his deeper inclination, his expressional destiny. This early self-knowledge has guided him to meet his teachers in the palimpsestus of the history of art: first of all Goya in his black painting, the “caprichos”, the human comedy and the merciless satire, a satire that leaves a bitter taste below the surface of laughter, because it is sprung and nourished by the awareness of the human fate. “Know yourself and be prudent” Heraclitus’s maxim about the human condition seems to be guiding the search of the young painter, pushing him to find out masters in Daumier, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rouault and even Picasso, especially in his drawings and etchings. The Spanish tradition holds the sceptre of this kind since the 16th century as it is demonstrated by the “novela picaresca” and Cervantes’s “Don Quijote”.

Considering all these, it is not surprising that Xenofon Bitsikas chose Madrid to do his postgraduate studies – breaking the one-way rule of Paris – and to explore the tradition of black and white in the history of European painting. That is why I’ve mentioned self-knowledge. Since his first public appearance in Zoumboulakis Galleries, the young painter has been concentrated on the same thematic material, the same technique, the same austerity of black and white.

Xenofon has the eye of an anatomist of human body and soul, of a discerning observer of the individual’s behaviour both when he is alone – conversing with the time, the age, the illusions or his existential truth – and when in dialogue with the others when he is wearing the mask of concealment, which in the end reveals rather than hides the collusion of the “human comedy” in the most tragic way.

You have already guessed right: Xenofon Bitsikas is an anthropographist, an ethographist in the deeper sense of the term, and of course he is a narrator. He is a gifted director of situations that stamp a compressed and full of tension instant taken from the course of the narration. The characters and the course of the narration may change but the subject is always the same: “the human comedy”, the human fate: the time, the decay, the disintegration of the flesh, the old age and the death which lays in wait. The fruitless machinations that mortals set up in order to fool time. Bitsikas comments cuttingly on the self-adulation, the narcissism, the arrogance, the erotic hiatus created by the encounter between the young and the old. An obtrusive witness, a demonical infant participates sometimes decisively in the scene, as he seems to interpret the painter’s thought and to guide the spectator’s comments in the painting.

The narration unfolds in a space which is defined by the draw of action, the postures, the movements, the axons and the directions of the bodies, as in Degas’s paintings. In order to widen the scenes of action, the young painter often resorts to perspective shortenings which he controls with a breathtaking mastery, completely unusual for his age and our days. Furnishing, utensils and objects are few, meaningful and communicative. They watch the action, they mark the psychology of the scene, they are conformed or even better they are deformed symmetrically and proportionally.

I believe that the description of the thematic material has already led us to the choices of Bitsikas’s work: The prevalent colours are black and white. Material: all the materials that can serve drawing, especially inks, common and photocopy toner, as in the drawings on acetate presented currently by the painter. Means of exploring the body is the drawing. A solid, penetrating, stereoscopic drawing that determines the volume of the bodies and their dialogue with space. A drawing that places bodies and objects in space. A drawing that requires numerous hours of study on the nude. The aged bodies were not difficult to be found and studied, since the School of Fine Arts of Athens holds the charitable and useful tradition of keeping the same models up to their old age.

I have already spoken about the concern for space which characterises Bitsikas’s painting. For the space structuring in his drawings. It is not difficult therefore to understand how the painter was led to the original idea of decomposing his drawing, of inscribing it on several transparent layers of acetate, creating this way a dynamic moving painting holography. The overlapping layers create to the spectator the illusion that he enters the actual place of action while at the same time they delay the perusal time and they climax the ‘discoveries’ that lurk, hidden, thoughtfully, in the farthest levels by the painter. The narration in this way regains the duration, the lost time taken away by the simultaneity of the traditional picture, while the scene becomes more dramatic with the cinematographic trick of surprise, suspense.

It is obvious that in order to achieve this complex result you must have great painting and drawing abilities. Xenofon Bitsikas is one of the most gifted draftsmen that have passed from our School over the past years. His gesture is strenuous but controlled. The width of his line is electrified, with incessant alternations, dynamic curves, spiral unfoldings, fractures, fadings and emergings. The line, the spot, the light and the shadow built an elliptical and at the same time legible system, where forms and space interlace and define dialectically one another.

Xenofon Bitsikas is a mature craftsman. But mostly he is a mature artist. Because his technical ability serves a vision, reveals us a world, as it happens only with the authentic creators. His presence in the new Greek artistic scene instigates promising expectations.


Marina Lambraki-Plaka
Professor of Art History
Director of the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum
* From the catalogue of the Xenofon Bitsikas’s exhibition, Zoumboulakis Galleries, Athens, 1998.