He was born in Thessaloniki in 1945 where he died in 2008. He started painting regularly while in Athens in 1968. Since then he had various solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group exhibitions. His last exhibition took place in Ianos, Thessaloniki, in October 2008, two months before he passed away. Parallel to his painting, Zikas worked on poetry and prose. Some of the books that he published are: “Shipping Pegasus” (1976), “Water” (1977) and “Poems” (2000).
Yannis Zikas as Yannis Zikas
Once, he read to me one of his poems, full of light and clay pannikins or metal kettles, and while the weather was wintery, his broad studio came into bloom all of a sudden, his dreamy colours and the various other objects, mixed in with flying birds, spilled out and flooded the space, and flew, all together, to the next street, like stars persecuted by uncontrollable forces. Yes, Yannis Zikas has always had a knack for delving from a particular time into others, for making up whole worlds in his head and setting them up, complete, at his feet (because he has the God-given fortune of an extraordinary nature). Blessed by God, then, he creates his own foundation, entirely personal, places the torch of day in its centre and all around the zodiac signs of the constellations and the other obvious marks of his genius. Always generous, he moulds and creates without waste. And he is never stingy with colours, shapes, qualities, but he is economical with his every work, individually, with discretion, as if through each of his creations he worships God, whom he believes in with all his heart.
He is awake while others are sleeping.
I always think of his tears, when he read to me his poems, the effects of a joy not self-important but creative, because he clearly knows better than anyone that, although the logical is common to all, many live as if they each have their own prudence. In other words, that our creations are owed to the one and only Word, and to the Holy Spirit, that shelters all of us under its wings. That’s why I say he is awake, while others are sleeping, and on the day of actual judgement he awaits, in certainty, his just reward as per his work. And he is certain because he never gave in to arrogance; doubt has followed him, a Fury of good, always. Similarly, when silence runs through the world, sealing mouths, he speaks – and in the midst of winter, he blooms. His art, therefore, predicts, the master prophesises; art guides, the master guarantees. Conversely, the artless boasts, art avenges. The artless works in darkness, but the light shows him up.
In addition, coming down from the height of the seven heavens, light repeatedly reveals the shape of actual man and his potential. There, down low, I find Yannis Zikas swollen one day, totally at one with himself, when he was depicting figures on the various walls of human reality, shaking his brush, a dream-like creature at the service of perfection. Thus he would position, in places otherwise unfamiliar, boats, trains, cars, trees, etc, hiding behind each of his actions the command of deprivation, articulated by the apostle of truth. His fruitfulness was obvious then, as it is now. I said to him, “Are you reaping fields you did not sow?”. “All the fields are mine”, he replied. “To the ten talents that you hold, another will be added”, I observed. Since then, I know, he is surrounded by a mural swirling around him, a world of colours. He created that world by working doggedly, subjugating to his will seven demons (Repetition, Frivolity, Satisfaction, the Sense of the Unique, the Obsessive Inflexibility of the Mind, Conceit, and Redundancy).
Even today the poet and artist, conscious follower of a living art, labours constantly to discover again his personal idiom on the borderline of his work as an artist, an eternal student. Yes, he discovers it anew today, just like yesterday, he, emotionally tender, captive of the hues of colours, the first-born of his art; he discovers it along with the phoenix of glory in the sky of things.
Thanassis Georgiadis Author, poet