Kyriakos Rokos, Imprints 1967-1975
New edition of a pioneering comic book (1978) by Kyriakos Rokos about the junta of the colonels, an expression of irony and denunciation in a psychedelic composition.
Kyriakos Rokos’ design diary “Imprints 1967-1975”, perhaps the first “adult” political comic created by a Greek artist, began to be worked on in 1973 in Paris, almost simultaneously with the events of the Law School, the first mass student mobilization during the seven-year dictatorship. It began with a mood of ridicule of the trio of the heads of the junta government of the colonels, Papadopoulos, Pattacos, and Makarezos, but then, as events thickened and grew heavier, culminating in the Polytechnic uprising, as an expression of anger at the deprivation of freedom imposed on the Greek people by a gang of ruthless right-wing extremists. “But not a rage that distorts vision and paralyzes the spirit,” as art historian Yannis Koukoulas writes in the publication’s epigraph, but a rage “that becomes speech and narrative, even with few or no words, and is captured in hallucinatory, psychedelic, surrealistic outbursts on paper.”
Fragmentary or wholly invented language, free penmanship, and fluid drawing, pictorial episodes with high symbolic content make up a work unique for its time, a work that combines anti-dictatorship with psychedelia and uses irony, satire, allusion, and direct denunciation as a weapon against the silencing and oppression of an entire people. The re-release of “Prints” today, forty-three years after its first publication in 1978, is not only a reminder of one of the most original forms that artists’ resistance to the junta took. It is not just an appeal to memory. It is an implicit opposition to the oblivion, the distortion, the misinterpretation of this profoundly traumatic event for democracy. It is an opposition to historical aphasia, which jeopardizes the democratic spirit and potentially breeds political suffering.