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Miltiadis Petalas, Untitled

Male bust, a knight at the right, a skull at the bottom left and fossils all over the composition.
Detail of a male bust and fossils all over the composition.

The piece Untitled by Miltiadis Petalas is a representative sample of the work of this young artist. It is a digital print with painted areas. The symbolic elements, such as the skull, the snake and the knight, are dominant in this work. The piece falls into the category of prints, but without losing its painting character. 

A metaphysical self-portrait

The piece Untitled is a representative sample of the work of Miltiadis Petalas.

It is a self-portrait. The figure of the artist is seen as a bust, rising from the neutral background. He paid particular emphasis on rendering the face, in contrast to the body.

The ties with icon painting, on which Petalas also works, are obvious. The fine features and gaze of the figure emit a feeling of mystical, almost ascetic religiousness.

The vanity of human existence

Symbolisms dominate the piece. The presence of the skull at the bottom is a reference to vanitas iconography. That is, to an allegoric representation that aims to bring to mind the vanity of life and the transient nature of human existence. The skull is a symbol of fear for the passing of time, which degrades everything and leads to death.

The traces of time are also presented in:

  • The fossils of leaves and plants scattered on the surface of the piece.
  • The knight on the right of the composition, a symbol of the past, history and passing time.

At the same time, the concept of vanitas is enhanced by the presence of the snake. The snake is depicted wrapped around the neck of the human figure. It is rendered in thin, rough lines, making it barely discernible.

The interpretations attached to the presence of the snake in art are numerous and diverse. The snake is sometimes a symbol of wisdom and science, and sometimes of malevolent deities and powers.

The fear of death

Petalas’ work is a mixture of symbols. They aim at expressing the anxiety over life and death.

The artist visualised figures and elements of the past with intense spirituality. In this manner, he has created a composition with a metaphysical reach, and echoes of past worlds and eras.

His life in a nutshell

Miltiadis Petalas was born in Athens in 1977. He studied Painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Rena Papaspyrou. He graduated with honours in 2003.

He continued his studies at the Engraving Workshop of the Athens School of Fine Arts under Michalis Arfaras and Yannis Gourzis. He graduated in 2011.

Artistic style

The dual capacity of Petalas as a painter and engraver is clearly visible. His works mainly fall into the category of prints, but without losing their painting character.

The main element of his art is experimentation and the combination of media. Petalas also favours the use of collage. He uses different prints on a single surface. He completes his pieces with ink, making extensive interventions.

A young and recognised artist

Petalas is a young artist who has presented his work in solo exhibitions. He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions in Greece and abroad.

In 2009 he was honoured at the 13th Biennial Miniature Print International Exhibition and the Exlibris Competition organised by the Ostrow Wielkopolski Museum in Poland. In 2010 he was awarded a distinction at the 33rd International Exlibris Competition in Istanbul.

The piece Untitled by Miltiadis Petalas is referenced in the Alpha Bank publication The Alpha Bank Collection. Greek Art from 1950 until Today, edited by Irene Orati and Thomas Begkas.
The publication accompanied the same-titled exhibition held at the Municipal Gallery of Ioannina.

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