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DRAWING THE CHIAN SPHINX

It was in 1981 when I started cooperating with a local studio of traditional folklore art, when I first started drawing the Sphinx. The Sphinx symbol was then one of the most common designs that decorated the ceramics produced there.

Later in 1983, I was hired at Chios Municipality as designer in the Technical Department. n this position had the full responsibility of the graphics used n Municipality prints. The Sphinx is the emblem of the Chios Municipality. It was a design often produced, and there were times, that the lack of suitable technical substructure imposed that several designs would be hand made, specially when an enlargement was desirable. May be mentioned that in that time, the l substructure for specific reproductions we had, were a few not evolved copying apparatus.

Obviously it was necessary that during all these 15 years 15 I worked in this department, the symbol of the sphinx should be designed, by hand, hundreds of times. we all know that practice makes us always better, but it is also true the exaggeration in practicing the same subject may prove boring, specially to someone who feels deeply the need of creation.

The idea of creating new aspects of the Sphinx symbol, based on Chian history was born in that time. My intention was to ascribe the history giving new shapes to the familiar symbol of the Sphinx I was planning to give suitable variations so that deficiencies in certain periods would be covered, specially where no samples of the symbol existed (e.g. during Byzantine ages, in recent ages, in the year between the 1st and the 2nd world wars, and in our times).

The primary designs were influenced by the familiar shapes of the Sphinx sculptures exposed in the Public Gardens as well as in Korais Library. Later in time, movements and positions of cats and the head of "Argentis Sphinx" were studied. Face features and hairdressing were among the details that kept in my drawings. he wings, open or folded, were also used to suggest in accordance with body's pose certain state or passion.

Even later the cat form was abandoned and the symbol's body was replaced with the body of a naked woman, although bearing still the tail and the limbs of a lion. In the end the sphinx was dressed in order to present the idea of Soldier in Byzantine ages, offering respects to holy and sacred faiths, or even that of the Staff - Bearer in search of the valuable, for the island, waters.

Several different designs have been drawn, before could decide which technique would give the perfect results. For the same theme have been tested drawing with pen and Chinese ink, the shadows with painter's brush. Thus most of the themes were several times elaborated, before the final decision on which designs should be included in the file of 40 designs, was made. As in several designs the result was equally desirable in various techniques, I was often in extreme difficulty to make the final choices.

An other very important point was all this work to be subtitled presented. the main meaning of each design ought to be ascribed in such a way that would not render tiresome. Special attention was paid in order subtitles to be pleasant and easily perceivable. All of them were directly written in ancient Greek language, in unison with the general message of this work I own their perfect presentation to the helpful assist of DKr. Athena Loutraris, as with her generous care any possible errors were avoided.

The whole work was finally first first presented in an exhibition of my personal work during July 1998, limited in 15 numerated copies with hand made covers. Mr George Varkaris Major of Chios then, especially attracted to the Sphinx work, offered the possibility 500 copies more to be printed as commemorative edition.

Chios November 1998

The artist Charalabos Kiliaris