Byzantium in Venice: Stelios Faitakis' Imposition Symphony (2011)


The Greek painter Stelios Faitakis has painted a mural for the Danish Pavilion in the 54th Venice Biennale.

It is not just a mural. It is a mural with the style and colors of Byzantium. In addition, it is beautiful. You can seat for a long time in the garden outside the Danish pavilion, enjoying the mural.

I had seen photos of it in the newspapers prior to my visit, but could never anticipate the impact the mural had on me.

Another Greek, Katerina Gregos, has been put in charge of the Danish kiosk after a lengthy and transparent selection process. Faitakis was one of the artists selected by Gregos. The mural builds on the tradition of Diego Rivera, but like any good piece of art, it goes beyond it. It tells many stories and it does so in pictures.

The mural comprises six panels. In the remainder I will present each panel, starting from the left to the right.

Panel 1:A photographer in the December 2008 events in Athens, Greece

Panel 2: President Mao in a garden of flowers with human faces

Panel 3: The crowd and the winged smart phones

Panel 4: Wilhelm Reich and the burning of the books

Panel 5: Gas Chamber and Oven

Panel 6: The violin – playing Saint

Above the door: Nikola Tesla

Epilogue: The themes on Faitakis’s mural are political, in the sense that they deal with the community, the society, the individual, and power. I do not get a sense of an all encompassing harmony in his synthesis. Most likely there is none. Likewise, there is no universal “message”. Which distinguishes the work from Rivera’s where there was a loud and clear message about the good workers, the bad capitalists, and so on. Faitakis’ world is far more complex. And this is why he can survive his playing with fire. Well done Mr Faitakis!!!! Thank you!!!


Right across from the Danish kiosk is the one representing the United States. There, an art duo from Puerto Rico, Allora & Calzadilla, have placed a tank from the Korean War upside down and on top of it there is an exercise machine, a belt on which an athlete with the USA shirt is running. The noise is horrible, and the sight is nothing to write home about. As for the inside of the USA pavilion, I better not say anything.


  1. Υπεροχο εργο. Εχει τη αφηγηματικη δομη της βυζαντινης τοιχογραφιας, σε μια συγχρονη αποδοση, εμπλουτισμενο με μοτιβα απω ανατολιτικης τεχνης. Ειναι ελπιδοφορο, που αυτην την εποχη της παρακμης της τεχνης, υπαρχουν ακομη καποιοι αξιοι δημιουργοι, που αφηνουν την προσωπικη τους σφραγιδα. Στην Ελλαδα τον ξερει κανεις τον κυριο, ή ισχυει το γνωστο : κανεις προφητης στον τοπο του?

    • Χαιροαι που σας αρεσει αγαπητη φιλη. Στην Ελλαδα ο Φαιτακης ειναι “σχετικα” γνωστος, αλλα ας μην ξεχναμε οτι η καλλιτεχνικη παραγωγη στον τοπο μας ειναι παντοτε ενας αθλος.

    • Ο κύριος πραγματικά κάνει πάρα πολύ αξιοθαύμαστη τέχνη, αλλά τους κάνει όλους εξαιρετικά μαύρους και ”αγιοποιεί” τυχαία άτομα χωρίς ολοκληρωμένη εικόνα.

      Πάντα φανταζόμουν υπέροχη ζωγραφική στο ακίνητα αυστηρό βυζαντινό ρυθμό. Με πρόλαβε άλλος.

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