From a distance, you see the semblance of a face. Upon closer inspection, its features become swirling distortions reminiscent of a topographical map – an amalgamation of winding lines of various colors. This is the hallucinatory technique of Greek artist Nikos Gyftakis, a master of psychedelic portraiture. From the perspective of Gyftakis, time never stagnates, it flows eternally through the constant pulse of energy. This pulse is an enchanting melody of which the soul waltzes through the medium of emotion. And the human face, riddled with expressions of elation, irritation, perplexity, boredom, sorrow, loneliness, desire, and contentment, performs the ultimate dance of timeless energy.

Gyftakis’ portraits act to undermine the ancient history of portraiture, whereby traditionally the subject of a portrait would be sealed eternally to the temporal constraints of the artist’s image. Rather than cementing the subject to a singular moment in their life, Gyftakis is able to conjure the constant flow of time into palpable dimensionality. From peering into the faces of his subjects, we are able to glimpse time in all directions, and soon realize how flimsy are the concepts of “past” and “future”. The artist’s figures experience time “in the now”, as change is inherent to their present existence. Our perception of the past and future is a biological tendency towards making sense of the constant shifts of energy. Gyftakis attempts to deconstruct that tendency through two-dimensional works of art that resound with spectacular dimensionality. His portraits exalt the beautiful flow of energy that exists not only within all of us, but within the entire universe of matter and thought.

Nikos Gyftakis Self Portrait

“Everything flows, nothing stands still.”

These words, which Gyftakis includes in his Liquid Friends series, invoke the fluid emotionalism of his portraits.

“Like the water digs up the earth creating different kinds of landscapes, the same way the color digs up the psyche of the human being to help the uniqueness of the face emerge. Faces that refer to theatrical masks…Distorted, enigmatic faces full of piled up feeling…Faces that literally melt and let the floodgates of their passions wide open…Faces that stand still in front of the mirror and let you see them from a distance, but puzzle you when you attempt to look at them close up. Abstract figures, yet concrete…Optical illusions…yet relative truths. Appearances are deceptive, or maybe not?


What is really hiding behind the reflection in the mirror?”

Gyftakis’ Self Portraits series reiterates the fluidity of emotional landscapes found within Liquid Friends, though through a deeply personal, and formally chaotic approach. Here the artist presents his own psyche in a tumultuous metamorphosis of expression. The faces are visually less coherent, and instead of speaking outwardly towards the viewer, he communicates introspectively through his art. The dialogue he establishes is ever-changing, always growing, and never repeated.


So perhaps the next time you take a long look into the mirror, ask yourself deeply and honestly, what moves through my reflection?


Article by Cheyenne Cunning