Today we’d like to introduce you to Joni Zavitsanos.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Growing up, I was greatly influenced by my father, renown Byzantine Iconographer Diamantis Cassis. Unlike most Greek fathers, he was a mild-mannered and learned, gentle soul, an immigrant, who guided my siblings and I with love and patient example. He was an art teacher in a public school far from our home and held private art lessons in his home-built studio for extra money. His passion was in creating the icons for Orthodox churches around the world. I would sit in his studio and work alongside him daily. I was never allowed a coloring book. Only blank sheets of paper to create what was in my imagination. Art, for me, became a normal part of everyday life.
Please tell us about your art.
My work is largely shaped by Byzantine Iconography, the earliest form of Christian art. Under its influence, color schemes, figures, architectural edifices, historical events, and visual perspective all play an important role in each piece I create. At the same time, the influence of my father is also visible in all the work I’ve created throughout my life. Drawing from these two streams of artistic and spiritual exposure, I strive to convey to the viewer a sense of the ancient past made present in today’s world. In this way, the iconographic images crafted centuries ago mesh with contemporary events and people, giving Byzantine art a feeling of relevance and continuity in our current lives. On a personal level, the work allows me a connection with my father and my Faith, bridging my life on earth with what mysteriously lies on the other side.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
The challenge, in my mind, has always been the same, and perhaps my father said it best. Modern art, for the most part, is “art for art’s sake,” whereas the ancient image was “art for man’s edification.” I believe strongly that artists today should continue to make edifying art, accessible to all, truthful, and sans pomp. It is hard, in today’s politically charged world, to create honest imagery and express an idea or message that matters. I hope I can accomplish this through my creations.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work will be exhibited at the Museum of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Art at Fordham University in New York City. Jennifer Udell, the curator, has selected 10 of my pieces to be displayed alongside their permanent collection of ancient Greek and Byzantine images. The opening is Thursday, September 12, 2019, and runs through December 12, 2019. My hope is that this body of work will travel to various institutions, shown side by side with the ancient image and my father’s work, in order to convey a connection with the past, present, and future. Follow me on Instagram to receive updates of showings.
- Website: jonizavitsanos.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: jonizavitsanos
- Facebook: jonizavitsanos