How my birth land made me a painter

My grandfather, God forbid, was a tourist bus driver in Crete. Almost every day, during the endless summers, we threshed in ancient places, in Byzantine churches and Venetian fortresses. The rest of the time I spent it in a rural village in the middle of Crete. There, we wandered during the hot afternoons, barefoot on the rivers and glades among goats and halflings, in the olive groves and vines, hunting birds on plane trees and cypresses, half-naked, drinking water from wells and stagnant springs, warm from the summer heat. At sunset we had to bring the animals back. And from the dullness of women we remained dumb. The light of things melted, leaving a mark so strong that I could not erase it. And I could not leave Arcadia…

Greek painter Nikos Stratakis


Nikos Stratakis is a contemporary Greek painter, born in Heraklion, Crete in 1960. He grew up in Athens and he studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts. His professors were Yannis Moralis and Dimitris Mytaras (painting) and Vassilis Vassiliadis (set design). As a student he worked as a set designer assistant and as a set designer for Greek and international film productions. After his graduation, he has been strictly working as a painter, professionally. He lives and works in Greece. His works can be found in the collections of Greek museums, ministries and in notable private collections in Greece and abroad.

He has been characterized as the pioneer of the neo- academic movement in Greek painting, meaning that he was the first of a group of Greek painters who, despite the domination of modernism in art, started to paint like the older generations of painters. Their main characteristics are nostalgia for old school painting, the brushes, the canvases and the touch on a work’s surface, which gives birth to a poetic voyage towards the classical vision in art. They can be called the Greek “prerafaeliti” or neo-nazarene painters.

Nikos Stratakis shrouds lyrical nudes and landscapes in a nostalgic atmosphere that recalls the Old Masters, particularly fresco painters of the Renaissance. His figures are classical in inspiration, and his brushwork and colors emulate the appearance of pigment mixed with plaster.

The Athenian, Greece’s English Language Monthly, January 1995

In order to take advantage of every last step of the acquired artistic knowledge, he runs continuously through the whole spectrum of art history. With the patience and curiosity of a Benedictine monk, he digs into the past, analyzes tradition and interrogates the future. He examines the plastic achievements of the ancient sculpture, plays with the perspective that allows him to create real or artificial spaces, strengthens his techniques in fresco, which he transfers on the canvas dissolving the oils as if they were watercolors, gives excessive importance to detail, in this way he pays homage to the mannerist art and finally borrows from the theatrical and cinematographic direction the way of incorporating the themes in his compositions.

Flavia Nessi 1994. Excerpt from the intro of the catalogue «Nikos Stratakis, Painting» Aithousa Technis Athinon, 1994

Nikos Stratakis, painter and musician, chooses the world of Music, the one that will allow him to talk about rhythm and measure, about moments of silence and concentration, about the private time of study and reflection that each of us needs to explore, assimilate and share the knowledge offered to him.

Iris Kritikou, Flavia Nessi about the exhibition «From Humanism to the Modern Era»

It is very difficult to summarize the influences of Nikos Stratakis’ painting, since he himself admits that almost all the ancient and classical Greek-European art was a very important motivation to make his work an endless study of the Great Teachers and their unsurpassed techniques. Nikos Stratakis experimented with diligence and skill, not only in multiple styles but also in all the classic themes. Searching, as he says, for the concept of Greekness in every project, he is also looking for himself as a child in Greece.

Maria Kanakaki, Α 10 year tour in the Greek art, 1994-2004. Collection of Gerolymatos Companies Group