Portfolio lll Equidae
The horse with its cultural diversity has a central role in Diamantopoulo’s mixed mythology. In a cocktail of contexts, absurdism sits astride elegance; he alludes to the past whilst pointing to present follies.
In an unconventional mind, the horse with its connotations of historical statuary can suddenly make a fresh, subversive and unexpected bolt of the imagination.
Indian dancing horses, cloned with chinoiserie, baroque or classically composed Grecian horses, noble horses borne aloft on pillars or long vessels are conflated with snippets from a song, theatre or lore - their riders often lodged incongruously on their backs having emerged from a carnival chest or Pandora’s toy box.
In much of this work Diamantopoulo plays with the irony of the ‘plinth-as- hero’.
“With the advent of the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square, the plinth has re- established itself in the mind of the contemporary artist, when in recent decades it was so easily snubbed as a relic of a bygone statuary art form.
“For me, it was never out of place in the gallery or street and I find it amusing that it is still happily underpinning many figurative and conceptual art forms. “
Here, the plinth, pillar or mount becomes the story, an essential part of the message.
“The notion of putting a Bottom in repose, on a pedestal appealed to my sense of the absurd – making the misplaced à propos and credible.”
This work alludes to Oberon’s speech to Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream where Bottom’s fate is sealed.
Chronologically, of course, the small- headed Tang Horse doesn’t belong in this story, though somehow, it sits well together.
Tang Blue ©
118 cm high x 51 cm wide
Diamantopoulo has taken the basic long-necked Tang Horse form and counter-balanced it, more or less exactly, with an atypical extended tail so that it stands precariously like a vase on a plinth – yet seems perfectly composed in the restful sense.
The horse and rider are blue - in the R&B sense.
126 cm high x 50 cm wide
Chlorus - Greek lexicon for pale green. The piece takes its energy from a Chinese dynamic, though paradoxically it is hauntingly still.
The horse’s head is diminutive - a classical technique which enhances presence in the body.
Though it is not apparent from this angle, viewed face-on, in both Tang Blue and this sculpture, the figure’s head is pared down to a mere slice, sitting on the shoulders like a penny - perhaps a gradual path to abstraction.
Baroque and Berserque ©
160 cm high x 69 cm wide
Embellished and extravagant in style in the baroque sense, but equally sketchy and free - a barmy concoction of creatures: avian, equine and seemingly cloven-hoofed.
Perfectly balanced on a pedestal, but equally off-his-rocker, this is a cock- eyed horse with a precocious, come- hither haunch.
A guardian of the gates of Bedlam perhaps.
Roy Harper fans will recognise the modified title (sic) from an album of the same name.
77 cm high x 38 cm wide
A turbaned head and mane has been added to this Chinese-Moghul crossbreed to create a vessel-of-a- horse with two handles.
“The Pasha’s Delight” was in my mind when making this tail-eating horse. High-spirited and corpulent, prancing improbably on a half moon, he exudes exoticism.
79 cm high x 94 cm wide
Subverting the concept of the horse as the object being mounted - it is the horse that is now mounted on a pedestal or, as in this case, a pedestal masquerading as a vessel.
The horse as passenger and not as conveyor and the vessel as a means of bearing the noble creature aloft, is a recurring theme.
Here, Bucephalus, Alexander the Great’s favourite horse, travels down the Nile on a royal, reed, horse- barge.
It is no accident that the barge also mimics a blacksmith’s anvil.
The ‘anvil’ anchors the piece, accentuating its gravitas whilst negating any sense of floatation.
96 cm high x 134 cm wide
Equuleus (Little Horse) perhaps representing the bringer of war.
This creature is poised for power, seemingly bearing a helmet or plating of some kind - a fearful and ancient deliverance upon some unsuspecting present-day shore.
Diamantopoulo deliberately launches classical or antiquarian themes or forms into the contemporary space in order to provoke.
A thing of beauty can deliver a disturbing sub- text with all the more force.
King Creole ©
87 cm high x 66 cm wide
Flying over a Norse-like vessel, a Celtic war-horse – simple, like an iron-age chalk downs carving, gallops with a standing rider on board.
The rider is based on the cave scratching of an even earlier art form to become a Neolithic King with an Elvis quiff or a primitive mouth.
The weathervane arms point east and west and echo the Christian cross.
79 cm high x 54 cm wide
A vessel with a horse-head prow and a horse-legged stand; on board, six rowers of Chinese origin.
Understated in this eclectic mix are the the horsetail rudder and the heart-shaped helmets that are disguised, wind-up toy keys.
This piece implies deception, combining the charm of a mechanical toy with the presence of an instrument of plunder. A variation on a Greek offering.
"Mixing dark foolery, the poetic and the literary with theatre and folklore — blended with a sort of logical nonsense..."
“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 Equidae and also in Allegoria, 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."