Sculptures of Freedom

Art and ideas inspired by Greece

Zenos Frudakis Jan 18. 2016
by Zenos Frudakis
I grew up in America’s Midwest. Both my parents were Greek.

My father, born in Alikampos, Crete, played the lyra every day at home. My mother filled the house with smells of Greek cooking -- Avgolemono soup, spinakopeta, lamb, and warm, homemade bread. My career began when, as a small child, I formed the dough into figures my mother baked in the oven. Greek was my first language. Even today, many people tell me I speak English with a slight accent, perhaps because English was not even my second language; art was.

I discovered Greek sculpture early, drawing from books with photos of the works of Myron, Phidias, Polyclitus, Praxiteles, Scopas and Lysippus, all who influenced my work.
The essential lesson I learned from Greek art was articulated by Nietzsche in his essay “The Birth of Tragedy.” I paraphrase: The reason Greek art reached great heights was that it balanced the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus, Apollo representing order, design, the rational; Dionysus disorder, emotional excess and sensuality. Too much of Apollo’s order and work seems a static, cold form. Too much Dionysus has the unsettling affect of being out of control, irrational and bordering madness. I endeavour to infuse my work with both gods.
My art is about excellence in concept and form. I am primarily a commissioned artist, so I rarely get to create my own ideas. Often, at best, I try to modify a client’s intentions toward the sublime to whatever degree I am permitted. In whatever I sculpt, the quality of the process is important.

In my sculpture, Knowledge is Power, two Greek influences are evident: the face of Socrates says “The unexamined life is not worth living”, and Protagoras gives the essential humanist statement, “Man is the measure of all things.”

My Freedom sculpture expresses an idea basic to the Greek ideals from which Democracy sprang. It also brings to mind the words of one of my favorite authors, Nikos Kazantzakis, which I read while standing at his gravesite in Crete, “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”
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