Harry Michalakeas


“My interest in contemporary art began as a child. My mother was an artist – drawing and painting – while my father had an artistic aptitude. They’ve always been unfailingly encouraging, especially during my formative years as a child.

I’ve been influenced by many artists, particularly Gustave Doré. His works are extremely emotional and intense. There is a darkness there that I find very powerful.

While I read quite a lot, my interest in identity stems from reading “Dr. Who,” which had a lot more back story than the TV series. In the book series, there are villains, the Cybermen, who “improved” themselves through technology until finally they lost all of their humanity. In my current works, I’ve created a range of doll-like young ladies – their faces are somewhat made of porcelain, blank, void of being. Here, I’m exploring the loss of identity that comes from conforming to the “laws” of today’s society.

I consider myself an acute observer of the human behavior and psychology, and since I’m also interested in science and technology, I feel captivated by the way certain things have been changing the human state, our being, our essence. In an apocalyptic future where everything’s possible, what happens when we are able to choose our children’s appearance by modifying their genes, for example? What unpredictable consequences would we obtain by combining our need for conformity to our obsession with ideal perfection and power?

Visually my work is a blend of realism and surrealism, and I produce a realism that applies to things which aren’t real.

I love when a work of art triggers a deep feeling, and the viewer is somehow seduced into analyzing the artist’s mind. Usually the viewer can’t quite pin down what the artist feels while creating art; however if the interaction yields a powerful enough emotional reaction, for me, that is clearly a breakthrough. A mind has been changed, slightly. Something has happened. I believe that we can pass through the heightened appreciation of beauty in the world just by observing it, and of course by making art.

My work has moved through different phases. At first I attempted to represent reality with a clarity to show my eye – objective reality; now, I’m evolving as an artist trying to open more fully my mind’s eye. While my older works were all graphite, now I augment my images with black pastel, black chalk and charcoal. I use the black pan pastel – an ultra-soft pastel – and black chalk to extend that range. I love the deep striking blacks that you can get with it. I love how organic the pan pastel is, since it’s a powder (I paint it on using a brush, then work into it with the graphite). I spend a lot of time building up layers gradually from light to dark. I don’t want to shatter the suspension of disbelief with individual pencil marks.

I think part of my personal process of making art is to now show it, coming out of my shell, in a way. Since my artwork is an extension of my personality, I’m ready to confront and even challenge my audience – to embrace, in some ways, my own identity.”