Few hours before Stefanos Rokos’ exhibition opening at The Benaki Museum, let’s have a look at his ambitious project that accompanies our daily life at Astralón since last August.

Now that’s what we call a challenge, let’s do this! we said happily, when the artist, Stefanos Rokos (who meanwhile created our front cover), invited us to become a member of his amazing team, so that to work with him on this huge project, called “Stefanos Rokos: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ No More Shall We Part, 14 paintings 17 years later”. An exhibition, a publication, plus more actions and activities to come, that for sure we won’t spit out for the time being.

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“A long time after my first hearing of «No More Shall We Part», I knew that the images that formed inside me when I first heard the songs of that album were still with me. And so, in 2015, more mature artistically, I decided that, for as long as it took, I would commit myself fully to the materialisation of an idea I had been developing for years: my aim was to attempt an entirely personal visual approach of «No More Shall We Part», creating fourteen paintings inspired by the fourteen tracks of the album – the original twelve songs and the two b-sides that were included in the limited edition release. Subsequently, I would very carefully transplant them into an art book, which I would edit myself for publication. This project also comprises my own personal proposition for the potential development of a dialectical relation between two art forms which have always formed the core of my artistic and creative expression. Stefanos Rokos

“It was extraordinary to stand in the studio and see the paintings for real – the grandeur of them, with all their congested details and terrifying blank spaces. I feel connected to the essence of them. I feel they are very close to the way I write lyrics – intense bursts of memory, ecstatic detail, sudden erotics, esoteric imagery; the forging of frozen narratives that hover about like dreams, haunted and strange and life-affirming.” Nick Cave

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A key person that introduced Stefanos Rokos’ idea to Nick Cave, American drummer and multi-instrumentalist of The Bad Seeds, Jim Sclavunos, describes clearly the meeting of the two artists’ in Athens, Greece.

“Having helped Stefanos mediate the go-ahead for this project –a project he had first broached to me way back in 2014– this was a key moment for us all; and now that the big reveal was finally happening, it was very interesting to observe up close the graceful etiquette and dynamic interplay between the two artists. It was akin to watching the unfolding of highly intellectualized sirtos, the pair initially circling each other, mutually respectful and complaisant, but also a bit wary, then slowly and gradually coming together, a bit warmer, a bit less guarded, pointing out details to each other, and by the end, the two side by side, hovering over the paintings, sharing ideas, completing each other’s sentences.”

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The 14 astonishing works were created between 2016 and 2018, and are all mixed media paintings, along with a handmade embroidery titled “And No More Shall We Part”, created by Antiopi Pantazi, at the same period.

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The silkscreens Darker With The Day (2017) and And No More Shall We Part (2018), pictured above, were hand printed by Chris and Manolis Angelakis at Tind studio by exposing acetate films hand drawn by Stefanos Rokos (limited edition of 200 prints each, numbered and signed).

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The art book, that presents the 14 NMSWP paintings, lyrics of the 14 songs and texts written by Nick Cave, Jim Sclavunos and Stefanos Rokos was printed in 1.500 copies. 300 limited edition books are accompanied by the silkscreen “Bless His Ever Loving Heart”; they are numbered and have a different cover.

On the occasion of the publication, two exhibitions are taking place, at the Benaki Museum / Pireos 138, Athens, from April 3 to May 19, 2019, and at Bernaerts gallery, Antwerp (TBA).

For more information visit the following links: stefanosrokosbenakishop.nickcavebernaerts.

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