Growing up, Yanni Floros discovered he was better at drawing than painting. He opted for charcoal as his medium because it had, in his eyes, a misnomer that needed challenging; he wanted to prove that charcoal was a forgiving medium. And honestly, I’m in awe of the photorealistic qualities he has been able to manifest from charcoal. Everything from to the softest of conditioned hair strands, to leather textures oozing cool and the all too familiar feel of commercial plastic casings of our favourite set of headphone or glasses. Yanni will block in the larger masses of the piece and will then begin to work his magic by sculpting out the clothing and upper torso with an eraser. The facial areas and hair require a more painterly approach, so charcoal dust is utilised for the more detailed elements.
However, faces are special to the brain. When you look at the people around you, or in piece of art, neurological evidence suggests you are engaging a part of the cerebrum that is specifically dedicated to facial perception. Our ability to formulate social cues from faces has aided in everything from our primitive survival, to deeper social bonds. But when a face is obscured or abstracted beyond recognition, we are forced to look deeper into the surrounding language of the body and the elements we can perceive. In the case of a piece of art, this would mean delving deeper into the piece itself to try and make sense of it.
Yanni approaches his realistic portraiture from this less conventional angle. Rather than pushing the facial features to the forefront, the majority of Yanni’s work obscures the face to varying degrees. I find that with the face obscured, I can focus less on social cues and more on the characteristics and story of the individual I feel some security in the fact that I’m not in the gaze of the subject; although that could be a reflection of my slight social anxiety. Nevertheless, I’m able to spend more time looking at a greater portion of the subject and noticing more niche aspects of their character. Greater emphasis is placed on gesture, pose, movement, clothing style, hair styling, and smaller details that make up our character. We all have our little idiosyncrasies after all. These elements can be very emotive in their own way and collectively can tell a story. We humans are characters in our own life story and Yanni reminds us we are more than the sum of our fleshy meat capsules. Sure, our most character defining moments may well be in the words or actions we do or do not take, but don’t let that diminish your propensity for expressing your character, your style and your story.
Emerge from the tube in your Stevie Nicks attire, wear that cute bracelet your daughter made you and sport that Mohawk your way. Tell the world about your character.