Portfolio lll Allegoria
Pierre Diamantopoulo’s artistic scope is extensive; his style resolutely capricious.
The elegance in his “Figures in the Landscape and Interior” (Portfolio l & ll) can often be seen in his studio side-by-side with what we have here — the uneasy, the dark and the bizarre at the other, extreme end of his range.
It is in this distinct, absurdist world that another strangely inventive and restive imagination steps out from behind the curtain. However, the underlying sense of mutability and droll humour is still there.
This is where Pierre’s affinity for the carnivalesque, the theatrical, the exotic, the classical form and artefact is liberated, giving his style a curious, edgy slant.
Of Masks and Masqueraders...
In this strand of Diamantopoulo’s work, the ambiguous, allegorical and theatrical are conflated and the clay of human history is rummaged and refined in
order to celebrate the folly of the present.
This is a place of incongruous fusion, inhabited by figures of uncertain genus. Here, in a toy box of ancient culture, you can wear and swap masks and conjure up hybrids from a disturbing, subconscious safari into the farthest regions of the atavistic mind.
Pierre’s sculptural tableaux are distilled, perhaps, from a snippet of a song, a saying or a piece of theatre– Théâtre de l'Absurde, the Commedia dell'arte and The Ballet Suédois are influential – his players occupying a world of logical nonsense.
Whether they be harpies, zebramen or ostrichmen, the ubiquitous hare, horse or bird, in this seemingly endless parade we find an archetypal menagerie of classical lore turned on its head.
Humankind and the animals are yoked together in a fantastical vision skewed by the sense of unrest and disorientation typical of his work.
Ship of Fools ©
78 cm high x 43 cm wide
The Ship of Fools has been the subject of art at the very least since Hieronymus Bosch, but here is a dream-like Shakespearean take on it.
One fool is rotund and content; the other is bright enough to be concerned. Balancing on a classical column, they are the two joy riders of the Acropolis.
Minimus and Maximus ©
77 cm high x 50 cm wide
Minimus and Maximus - little and large – an irresistible title for a serious subject of burden: the living have a cross to bear, a monkey on the back – in this case, a donkey or an ass, father and son or two brothers. He isn’t heavy, really. The Egyptian stance takes it back to the tomb.
Monsieur Bubo ©
51 cm high x 56 cm wide
Bubo Bubo – the owl.
Here, a human form seems to have occupied a shell-like body with an owl mask. He crouches uneasily and looks anxiously through his new eyes. “He crept out of the shadows when I wasn’t looking, but he’s quite benign and strangely endearing.”
60 cm high x 41 cm wide
In Percy Bysshe Shelley’s romantic sonnet there is a pedestal, buried in the sands of time, on which an inscription reads: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Ozymandias was another name for Rameses the Great and the poem speaks of the decline of all kings on earth, however powerful. “If ever there were to be a King of the Asses, I believe this would be his countenance.
The Louis XIV big-hair comes from another place.”
Ballet d’autruche ©
63 cm high x 66 cm wide
The Ostrich Ballet. Based on the Ballet Suedois – specifically Jean Cocteau’s “Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel” where giant pantomime ostriches perform quadrilles on stage.
In the making of these, a Fijian figure metamorphosed subconsciously with Jean Hugo’s costumes emerging in these tribal ‘dolls’.
Panjandrum l ©
76 cm high x 39 cm wide
Two cartoon-like weather-vane hares “Pomp” and “Circumstance” take the guise of Eros the Archer on royal chariots.
This is no transportation fit for kings, but in the first image, a facsimile of a simple, yet ornate, Cretan water cart and in the second, a glorified perambulator.
Pomp and Circumstance are being pierced though the heart.
"The other strand of my practice shown here, is ambiguous, allegorical and atavistic, but still concerned with mercurial forces..."
“There are two distinct strands to my figurative style. They seem to be intellectually and emotionally worlds apart, but they share the same impetus.
In the first strand (Portfolios l and ll) there is a cool and measured response to a profound sense of unrest.
The other strand of my practice is exotic — shown here in Allegoria and also in Equidae, Portfolio lll.
It is ambiguous, allegorical and atavistic, but still concerned with mercurial forces. In this work, every piece also has its own narrative.
Here, I work on impulse — mixing dark foolery, the poetic and the literary with theatre and folklore — blended with a sort of logical nonsense.
This may be a voyage into the past, personal or absurd, diverted by the raw and primitive, with the wit, the mimic and maverick on board.
These works are often executed with an immediate, freer hand, exploiting the texture of the raw material and sometimes are, intentionally, less polished, sketches in clay.
Their painted or patinated surfaces are worked and re-worked, layered and eroded, marking time on their faces."
Archival — Allegoria cont'd
66 cm high x 90 cm wide
Diamantopoulo’s figuration is both an exploration of the human form in its many guises and the conjoining of man, woman and beast.
It takes many shapes and forms whether classical, dynamic, pared down, abstracted or cut very often with subversive wit.
Dancing in the flames of some infernal place, faceless human figures emerge from the raw stuff of life in these quick sketches in clay.
44 cm high x 27 cm wide
Painted Man. Painted Horse.
The human figure and the zebra conjoined is a recurring theme for the artist. The zebra - ‘the painted horse’ is never simply treated as a naturalistic subject in this work.
The marks on the surface can belong to the man as much as to the animal, like a tattoo, but on the human they seem more transformative - an indicator of light and dark moods.
Patterns on a living being can act as a disguise or they can advertise in equal measure and both are deceptive.