Curated by: Maria Almpani
"The painting of Dimitris Mistriotis is a sensitive attempt to see the world with care in order to fill the void with colors and lines, rhythmically seeking Life, which is, probably, Joy.
Like a bird learning to fly, he makes a humble and necessary effort, bending with discipline towards the surface, respecting it and the things upon it he depicts, invoking, in this ascending attempt, the spirit of the Saints of his Christian faith: that wind."
"Symeon Hieromonk, 8-9-1996, Mount Athos, (on the occasion of the first presentation of the Couch Exercises)"
"Captain Migas (Dimitrios Mistriotis) creates art stemming from the spirit of things. He digs into the soil of his soul and discovers native emotions and memories. He looks deeper (introspection) into tradition, history, religion, Greek culture, the inner dimension of international art, his environment and seeking redemption, the whole of things, he paints "votive painting" as he calls it. Unconventional, almost psychoanalytic, he attempts to bridge the mind and senses. His artistic style, is ultimately interwoven with his mindset. The two-dimensional depictions of objects and people, accompanied by their painted titles, refer us to various Western art styles: folk art, art brut, abstract (American) expressionism, Byzantine art - a particular artistic melting pot."
Poly Hatjimarkou, Exhibition Curator, October 5th, 2002 (Rhodes, on the occasion of the presentation of the series "Scarfs Laid with Tables" among others at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rhodes.)
By presenting the Couch Exercises and the Scarves Laid with Tables series that followed immediately after, I hope to communicate to the art-loving public both the works and the fundamental quests that gave birth to them.
Those who see in my painting a notion of Greekness are right, with the difference that while Greekness as we know it from the movement Generation of the '30s, was more of a Geographical-based identity and of Ethnic Character, my Greekness is mainly of Civilizational identity. However, the present exhibition explores this collective notion through a series of personal quests.
First and foremost is the quest for the Sacred in art: From a young age, I challenged the prevailing materialistic model and with a comparative religious perspective, I sought the mystical experience in various traditions and systems. After wandering as a Prodigal Son for three years in a wretched psychophysical state, I was privileged to participate in the confessionary of the Saint David Chapel at the Latomos Monastery in Thessaloniki where, at the age of 25 in the early 1990s, I was given the mystical experience I was seeking. The concept of the Sacred is immediately followed by the concept of the Nous in Art. Why?
If the Sacred is the highest and deepest element of creation, the highest and deepest element of human beings is the Nous. On Wikipedia in Greek, we read that the NOUS is synonymous with the intellect. Does this view perhaps stem from Saint Augustine, the fundamental Latin Father of Catholicism, who named the Nous "higher intellect" and the intellect "lower intellect"? Is that why modern Greeks today call intellectuals, spiritual? For the ancient and Byzantine Greeks, however, the Nous or Spiritual Eye or Heart is something else. By chance, in the Saint David Chapel where I had my experience, there is a depiction that illuminates its mysterious nature:
I am referring to the pre-iconoclastic mosaic with the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, where the prophet ecstatically brings his Palms to his Ears. N.G. Pentzikis drew my attention to this, saying that the Prophet is "-caressing the vision". In my opinion, the Ear and the Palm depict two aspects of the Nous sense, corresponding to the form of the Dove and the Tongue of Fire of the Holy Spirit. With the Couch Exercises, I focused on the Palm, and with the Scarfs, I expanded to the Ear, which is probably the intellectual, logical element of the spiritual that we all know.
Focusing initially on the Palm, I paid attention to how I felt while working, which I wanted to be a calm vigilance: I improvised, but based on a predetermined basic pattern that had been gradually revealed, working on the same subject at the same time every day: A living room table with its belongings in the midst of mountains, as a kind of island with sea all around and clouds above. (Later, I learned that the space surrounding the Holy Altar is referred to as the "Sea". This made me wonder whether what I had painted was a revelation of what Saint Maximos the Confessor calls the "Type" of things.)
Since we're speaking about the Palm, we refer to Touch and to the micro-rhythms that determine Texture. In the Couch Exercises, specifically we have Line Textures. Kandinsky's correlation: Circle=Blue, Square=Red, Triangle=Yellow, leads to the concept of intelligible Color and intelligible Monochromaticism. The color of monochromaticism, the common linear texture in essence, also determined the shape of things.
Next is the concept of improvisation that submits a different relationship with time. There is also a time limit: the work had to be completed in about an hour: it was not the work that needed time, but the time that needed work to fill and record it. The date was an important part of the signature. In the rare cases I worked on the same work for a second day, a second date was added. Do we perhaps aim to represent time through objects at a subconscious level? In any case I call works that somehow capture the moment chronographic:
"It doesn't matter how long you can stand by the spring, you'll always start over to observe the water. Because the water never stops flowing and relentlessly begins to surge again. The same happens to the one who fixes his gaze on God's boundless beauty. He discovers it from the beginning and always sees it as something new and strange compared with what the intellect always understands. And as God continues to reveal himself, man wonders and marvels"
Gregory of Nyssa (337-395 AD)
Closing, I will say that after the Couch Exercises, I moved on to Scarves laid with Tables where, as I mentioned above, I had the opportunity to experiment with more intellectual, formal issues where sporadically, as Father Symeon accurately pointed out, after I had touched the dual terrain of the Intelligible, I began to soar towards the Sensible, with the difference that, like a Paradisaea with its rhythmic plumage, I carried the Intelligible along with me.