Monday, 24 October 2016

The Light and Dark World of Tilemaxos Varsamas

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Kas

Expressing feelings and thoughts as visual art. To feel and to think is what we all do naturally. To feel and to think and then to express those feelings and thoughts, to project them into space and time, that is what an artist does.

Artists are often standing on tightropes, tightropes between different and often wildly opposing realities. They are expected to be part of the 'real world' the world of grocery shopping, small talk gossip, family, bills, but they are also part of the inner reality, that which doesn't deal with the everyday, but instead deals with the tensions and strains of the inner being, the complexity of self and all that that entails.

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Smell of Female

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Not Saved

This is where the Greek graphic designer and digital artist Tilemaxos Varsamas finds himself creatively. Trying to understand the busy urbanity of contemporary Athens, whilst at the same time trying to understand the equally busy psychology of self.

This is an artist that works mostly in black and white. By doing so he believes that he is searching for the discovery of 'colours' that lie behind and beneath the obviousness of the black and the white, which in many ways represents his personal psychology and character.

Tilemaxos Varsamas: NofuN

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Theme 0

The isometric nature of the work that Tilemaxos produces in his compositions reveals the uneven. Working on projects that give all the appearance of dramatic theatrical plays, he feels that he is searching for the inner voice, the voice that has difficulty in being heard.

Influenced as he is by Classical Expressionism, Tilemaxos can feel at times overwhelmed by the unexpected nature of shadows found in his work. The way that light can loom out of the darkness, that it can take on shapes and images that can coalesce into thoughts and ideas in the mind of the artist, and of his audience. 

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Lamentos, A Poema Muerto

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Twins

It is this that Tilemaxos is keen to communicate as an artist, to share experience with others who have similar feelings and emotions. A shared experience is after all a shared connection, and that is what we are all really looking for, connections of understanding. 

For the first time in his life Tilemaxos is beginning to work with defined colour in his work, and this for a new exhibition that he is preparing for. It is a bold step for an artist that has so far steeped himself in the subtleties of the play of dark and light, the interaction that comes so naturally between black and white, colour can be a difficult step to take.

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Family Affair

Tilemaxos Varsamas: X

But Tilemaxos is intrigued by this new found use of colour, and the new perspectives it is giving him within his artwork. His creative path is leading him to new vistas, and along with his life's work so far that can only add to the complexity of his work, and perhaps even give him new insights towards clarity, and that we look forward to with great enthusiasm.

More of Tilemaxos work can be found at:, as well as at the social media site: Facebook

Please be aware that all of the works illustrating this feature belong to the artist, and that his permission needs to be sought before sharing. Thanks.

Tilemaxos Varsamas: Trash

Monday, 17 October 2016

Constantinos Chaidalis - The Sinister Series

Constantinos Chaidalis: The Bell Jar II

Collage is not decoupage. we need to make that clear before we start. Decoupage is a Victorian pastime of cutting out pretty pictures and gluing them to a surface, creating a cacophony of colour and composition. Most decoupage has no rhyme or reason, it is a diverting pastime, a decorative craft. Collage is very different.

Collage is not part of the decorative world, but very much part of the fine art world. Collage has purpose, message, understanding, It has direct links with Surrealism, and is wrapt up in ideas surrounding the unconscious, the waking dream state, and connections with worlds within worlds.

Constantinos Chaidalis: Beekeeper II

Constantinos Chaidalis: Rite

Collage is as popular today as it has ever been. So many contemporary artists are using collage to discover and rediscover aspects of themselves and aspects of the world around them. To question what they see, and indeed, what they don't see.

The Greek multidisciplinary designer Constantinos Chaidalis, who specialises in graphic design, illustration, and motion graphics is, like many designers, also an artist. He has produced a number of art projects including one named Sinister, for which all of the imagery illustrating this article derives.

Constantinos Chaidalis: Snake

Constantinos Chaidalis: Summer II

Sinister in particular, deals with personal memory and loss. This is a series of pieces that reflect a cathartic process for the artist, as it does for many artists. Constantinos work for this project deals with past holidays, childhood holidays, those that we wrap up tightly in the good memories, the ones we keep safe and away from the deconstruction methods that are so much a part of the nature of adult memory. 

Constantinos sees the work of Sinister as being the product of his grieving process. He sees each of the pieces as being representational and indicative of the powerless state, the rootless phenomenon that we find ourselves in when dealing with death. Death is inevitable, and with us all the time, and yet we stumble and falter when it comes, as if we had no idea such a thing was possible.

Constantinos Chaidalis: Summer III

Constantinos Chaidalis: The Beach

It is no accident that most of the imagery is represented by children. Constantinos is well aware of this, and the imagery is purposeful. To him, the children represent how we so quickly revert to our childhood stance when it comes to death, and the reality of loss. When we face our fears and anxiety, we seldom face those fears as an adult, but more usually as a child, we revert to the lost and bewildered aspect of childhood, and Constantinos is pretty astute for picking up on that, and reflecting it in his work.

All of the work represented here is of digital collages with overdrawn parts. Although Constantinos is fully aware that a number of the collage pieces that he has produced in this Sinister series could easily be seen as photo manipulations, photomontage even, they still have a definite feel that pushes them towards collage.

Constantinos Chaidalis: The Bell Jar

Constantinos Chaidalis: The Books

The Sinister series has a sense of fracturing, of unravelling, of the deconstruction of the childhood faith in safety and nurturing. In a sense, it is like watching the creeping adult comprehension of futility and inevitability, wrapping itself around the physical and mental body of childhood. A fascinating project from the artist, and perhaps a cathartic tool for us all.

More of Constantinos work can be seen at his comprehensive website:, as well as at social media sites: facebook, instagram, tumblr, and also vimeo.

Please be aware that all imagery for this feature was supplied by the artist, and is therefore copyrighted to Constantinos Chaidalis.

Constantinos Chaidalis: Venison

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Balaclava.Q Interview with Stiofan O'Ceallaigh

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth”
Oscar Wilde

It is hard to believe that Balaclava.Q is a mere three months old. I have watched this site grow from nothing more than the ideas, convictions, and passion of one man, the artist Stiofan O’Ceallaigh. Stiofan is a human dynamo, he never stops. He is a constant cascading waterfall of ideas, projects, plans, all of them positive, all of them connective, collaborative, all of them empowering, and all with the art community their heart and centre.

There are fundamental shifts occurring in our society, we are a world in transition. We are moving ever towards a world of connectivity, of groupings, of support and cooperation. It may not appear so on the surface, but the foundations of a different world, a more connected and collective world is being formed.

Much of the shift is being fuelled by the internet. People are beginning to understand that there is more to the phenomenon of the net than online shopping. There is a larger picture forming, and that larger picture has to do with connection and self-empowerment.

The art community, as it always does, is reflecting and in many ways leading the phenomenon. There is a palpable buzz of excitement about the possibilities of real connection between artists, art groups, art platforms. Spearheading that excitement of possibility is Balaclava.Q, and Stiofan O’Ceallaigh. The following interview with Stiofan is about that excitement of possibility, turned into probability.

Balaclava.Q featured artist: Bex Ilsley

Where did the idea for Balaclava.Q come from?
My passion is people, my religion is people that is who I am, how I see life. For 14 years I worked with people, mostly artists. I created platforms for artists, in many different guises, different shapes and forms, different types of projects.

After that 14 years I made the decision to go back to my roots, to go back to being a working artist, something I had always been, but never really had the time for.

Being a working artist again meant that I became increasingly aware of what was going on within the art world, and there was definitely something happening, and it was happening on social media, regarding artists and their work. I noticed that more and more artists were sending out the message that their work was being systematically removed from various social media sites for no apparent reason.

I really felt the need to do something, to help in some practical way. There were a lot of artists out there creating really great work, but it was not being seen because it was in constant battle with social media censors.

I had heard about artists having duplicate profiles on social media sites, having three or four profiles on others. Running along those lines I thought a great way of not allowing the powers that be to keep a track of you, or the algorithm to be more exact, would be to wear a mask, that’s where the balaclava came in.

 Balaclava.Q featured artist: Ingrato

So the balaclava isn’t about hiding?
No, definitely not, and it is certainly not about shame. Shame was something I really didn’t want this project to be about. I really didn’t want people to think that Balaclava.Q was all about wearing a mask because you are ashamed of who you are. No, it’s not.

It is about emancipation, it is about freedom, it is about connectivity, it is about relationships. It is about opportunities, giving artists opportunities.

It is about an approach to art that is activism, emancipation, anonymity, transgression, identity, identification, subversive, subliminal, futuristic, dystopian, bringing all this and more together and allowing artists the space to reshape it through Balaclava.Q. That is just wonderful to watch, and wonderful to be a part of, and of course, there is no censorship, which as previously stated, so many artists suffer under. This is a free and liberating space for art and artists, and that is fundamental to what Balaclava.Q is about, freedom and the art of anonymity. It is about taking down the borders, and enjoying ultimate diversity, in whatever form that takes.

So what is the definition of Queer?
I went from being gay to queer. To me it is a spiritual and political stance in that you consider yourself to be ‘other’. The ‘Q’ on the end of Balaclava.Q obviously represents the word queer. Queer is the new punk, Queer is a punk aesthetic, it comes from punk.

Twenty or thirty years ago, considering yourself as ‘other’ would have been difficult, isolating even. But now, with the internet, finding others like yourself, finding connections, it’s unbelievably fast and easy to find your community.

To me, Queer is about trying to push things, creating new ideas for new realities, new perspectives, taking a view of the world where anything can be anything. It is only when you start labelling those ‘anything’s’ that it becomes its own construct, and then it gets walled in.

So – to me - Queer is a non-binary, non-label ‘other’. What you do with your sexual bits is of no concern to the project, or to me, it’s more about how you identify and what you want to say.

Balaclava.Q featured artist: Wilhelm Vincent

You talk a lot about diversity regarding Balaclava.Q How important is that to you?
I am really, really passionate about diversity, and passionate that Balaclava.Q reflects the full diversity of who we are. As long as the face is obscured, the work can be about anything, and can include anyone, there are no exclusions and there never will be, I would encourage anyone to submit work to the site, and I would really love to hear from them. The stance taken is entirely up to the artist, so it can be political, sexual, fetishistic, dramatic, whatever you want it to be, it can be. The only real proviso is that you obscure the face, everything else is up to you the artist. I am keen to have a female, trans or non-binary perspective on the project and would welcome submissions from those communities. If you are out there, reading this then get in touch.

So where are you at the moment with Balaclava.Q?
Balaclava.Q is constantly evolving, and it is the artists that are submitting work to Balaclava.Q who are evolving the project. It’s already starting to reshape itself as it moves along. That’s really exciting for me, and what is even more exciting is that many artists are now creating new works specifically for the online gallery. So we are going to start having exclusives for Balaclava.Q, which is really cool.

Some artists have started to look at the idea of the face itself as a mask, how you can use emotions and expressions to hide how you are really feeling. Some artists are really getting conceptual and metaphysical about it as well. So all these different artists, different genders, all these different sexualities may well reshape the tagline of the project.

Balaclava.Q featured artist: Luca Gaetano Pira

So things are getting really busy for you.
Really, really busy, lots of stuff coming in all the time. I am also getting a lot of positive feedback from people saying how great the website is looking, how cool the project is. What is really exciting is that artists are starting to take ownership of their galleries within Balaclava.Q, but also artists are spreading the news that the site is a really important project and platform, that the artists featured are exciting, I find that really inspirational.

I want this project to be constantly redefined by the artists that take part. I realise now, from my own journey through this project that the parameters of what is queer is constantly in flux. What is queer today will not be queer tomorrow.  It’s more than present, it’s omnipresent, and is constantly changing shape, and that is what I want this project to do, and that is what I feel is happening.

Balaclava.Q featured artist: Rafael Maldonado

You talk often of Balaclava.Q fostering connectivity and relationships. Have you formed any yourself through working with the site?
Yes indeed. I have made really meaningful connections with a number of the artists that have been featured on the site. A good example of how Balaclava.Q is working, is the relationship I have formed with the artist Johann N’Dale. I have done a call out for a magazine that he wants to get off the ground and running, called Fuck Hate. He said that it was because of the Balaclava.Q project that he created Fuck Hate. It is so cool when that happens.

But I have also formed a number of relationships outside of Balaclava.Q that have then become connected to the site. A case in point is yourself.  

We have been working together as a team on the forthcoming Inspirational 13. It has been really great to be part of a new direction for the Inspirational publication. It’s a really exciting time for both Balaclava.Q and Inspirational, and to have us both connected, both collaborating with each other’s projects, that can only make us stronger.

Balaclava.Q featured artist: Leon Headstone

So what about the future?
The first of the in-depth artist interviews has just taken place with the artist Leon Headstone. The interviewer is California-based queer art theorist and historian Robert Summers, I am honoured to have Robert on board and his contribution to Balaclava.Q so far has been immense. These interviews will be a regular monthly event.

Another thing that is definitely coming up soon will be a call out for new collaborators. As Balaclava.Q grows, it needs to bring in new people, with new skills. Check the facebook page regularly for that and more.

There will also be a comprehensive links section for the website, which I am working on at the moment. That will include links with the individual artist websites, and links to a range of interesting and relevant sites.

An important motivator for the project is the fight against injustice, especially when it comes to the LGBTQIA community, the level of violence and hurt that it regularly suffers from is totally unacceptable. A lot of the partners that I am going to be working with in the future, with regards to this project, will have the core aims of addressing inequality, homophobia, hate, racism.
I have also been offered exhibition space by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Manchester. It is an exhibition that has a theme of stigma and HIV, and will coincide with World Aids Day (December 1).

Balaclava.Q featured artist: Menelas

And finally?
When I started this project it was all about encouraging artists to feel empowered, to say what they wanted to say, and then to find other artists to resonate with, connect with, create opportunities with. That is what Balaclava.Q is doing and will continue to do.

What is really exciting is that it feels like the whole art community is now also beginning to see the power of connections, relationships, collaborations. That is where we are going as a community, I can feel it, and that is definitely where Balaclava.Q already is.

To find out more about the Balaclava.Q project, or to make a submission as an artist, visit:

To find out more about the artist Stiofan O’Ceallaigh, visit:

You can contact Stiofan direct at:

The artist: Stiofan O'Ceallaigh

Monday, 3 October 2016

Andy-Jean - An Artist Who "Has to Say"

This is the work of the Montreal-based artist Andy-Jean. I have taken the decision not to write an article for Andy-Jean, purely for the fact that his descriptions of his work are so beautifully and descriptively written that I feel compelled not to intrude, so I leave you with the words of the artist Andy-Jean.

"An artist is a man who "has to say."" - Andy-Jean

Andy-Jean: Hasting Street 

Hasting Street - This artwork is an illustration of heartbreak! I left him and what you see is farewell. 

Andy-Jean: Sensuality Automnal/Sensualite Automnale

Sensuality Automnal/Sensualite Automnale - The autumn in Canada is magic. The smells, the chiaroscuro, the colors, the undergrowth shaded, awaken the taste of the Other one.

Andy-Jean: Cadillac 

Cadillac - Cadillac is America! Cadillac was all the times, the ladies in the long dresses of the beginning of the 20th century, then the pursuits in the streets of Chicago led by Al Capone, to the immense black cars of the years 60-70 which were the trademark of the Mafia. Today, it is the design and the performances which dominate. The work brought together two eras, those of 60-70 years and the emergence of the street art by the end of the Millennium.

Andy-Jean: Shading/Degrade

Shading/Degrade - For me there is nothing more beautiful than to see by a beautiful day, the nuances of the blue in the sky.

Andy-Jean: Petit Matin!

Petit Matin! - There is nothing more sensual than seeing your lover awake, naked, and looking for their socks

Andy-Jean: Music City

Music City - Downtown is for me music, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, sometimes sensual, but never boring.

Andy-Jean: Martin

Martin - It's three o'clock in the night, when you hang out in the streets alone, penniless, and without love. It is an undefinable sensation, it is not a shooting pain, nor an absence of everything, it is the moistness enveloping you and which lets you glimpse that there is something else, that there is an invisible world beyond the material.

Andy-Jean: The Veiled Woman

The Veiled Woman - The Women Veiled - the Islamic religion, the terrorists, the Syrian refugees, were here in Canada, a fascinating subject of discussion, and sometimes, unfortunately, style 'Trump'! For me, a woman who covers her face, refuses to tell others what she is. She is no more than an alive statue covered with black.

Andy-Jean: Graffiti from Paris

Graffiti from Paris - I like sculpture, but I don't have the talent, I like the painting, and that I can do! So I paint a beautiful statue of a woman sculpted by another!

Andy-Jean: Wolf-Dracula

Wolf-Dracula - The Nature often tells us who we are. Our forces, our hate, our shameful desires and...

Andy-Jean: Lips

Lips - More than 9000 notes.

Andy-Jean: Decency

Decency - The title says everything

Andy-Jean: Le Buveur de Sang

Le Buveur de Sang - Blood is Life. 'Him' drinks it. It's disgusting, strange, but also vital.

More of Andy-Jean's work can be found at his comprehensive website:

Please also be aware that these images are the copyright of the artist and cannot be reproduced without the permission of that artist. Thanks!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Greg Farndon and the Language of Our Times

Greg Farndon: Even the Good Get Shadowbanned, 2016 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on hardboard)

All artists are a reflection of the era in which they live. They are tempered, flavoured, moulded by the time of their living, they are a product of their times, and yet there is something more. An artist is a living entity, one that stands slightly askew from the norm, a creature that lives within a shift of perspective, of consciousness, someone that can see more than others, but also someone who can see less, both are supremely invaluable elements of what it means to be an artist.

An artist can see more because they can often see, recognise, and understand the mechanism of life, the framework that lies beneath the daily distractions of life, but they can also see less, not less as in understand less, but less as in interference. The ephemera of distraction is there, palpable, but it is also a mechanism, understand it as that and you can see through and around it.

Greg Farndon: A Tougher Act to Follow, 2015 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on reclaimed board)

Greg Farndon: First Recorded Use, 2016  (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on hardboard)

That is a special gift and it is one that comes with the territory of being an artist, particularly of an artist living in this most peculiar and special of centuries. 

The artist Greg Farndon is both observer and participator, both abstractive and integrator. He is able to pick out the layers of visual life that we now have identified ourselves with, our social media, our music, our literature, our film, all part of the contemporary language of our lives, the references that have become almost instinctual, part of the biology of our lives, and yet they are still surprisingly new. They are with us now, but also are part of the building blocks of future generations of language and understanding.

Greg Farndon: Makin' Beats, Kickin' Tyres, 2015  (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on hardboard)

Greg Farndon: In & Amongst It All, 2015 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on reclaimed board)

This fascinates and intrigues Greg, and rightly so. We live in extraordinary times, in ground-breaking transformative times. Everything is fluctuating around us as we move inexorably through these technologically led times. We are creatures steeped in suspicion and magic, in tragedy and wonder. We have traditions and understanding in the way things were, but nothing in the way things are to be, and that is the excitement for an artist like Greg.

To be in on the organic movement of life, to observe and to interpret and interject new forms of narrative, symbolism, reading, recording, language itself in fact, where the constancy of fundamental transformation becomes the everyday, these fill the compositions of the artist.

Greg Farndon: Mark Me Down, Hang Me Up, 2016  (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on hardboard)

Greg Farndon: Primary Cover, 2016 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on hardboard)

You cannot help but be mesmerised by the work of Greg Farndon, I defy you to be indifferent to the impact of his narrative. These pieces by Greg are at once measures of what is primal and futuristic, what is magical and everyday, but most importantly of all, they are the language and essence of where we are now, at this point in the twenty first century, the century of utter transformation, the one that will change our species from the bottom up. 

These are the initial movements, the most important in our transformation, our next evolutional jump, which is why Gregs work is so important. His pieces are visual observations of the shifts in perspective, of his own, his culture, his species. They are a precious gift, as is the artist Greg Farndon and we are lucky that he is as intuitive and insightful as he is.

Greg Farndon: See Me Through It All, 2015 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on board)

Greg Farndon: The Sense of Blockers Remorse, 2015 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on board)

More of Gregs work can be found at his comprehensive website:

Please be aware that all of the imagery illustrating this article was supplied by the artist, and are therefore copyrighted. Thanks.

Greg Farndon: SUS, 2016 (acrylic, spray paint, oil pastel, graphite, chinagraph pencil on hardboard)