Contemporary Icons

Wayne Davis and Dimitri Lykoudis

Date(s) & Times

August 11-September 2, 2017

Gallery Hours by Appointment

Opening Reception Friday August 11, 2017 / 6-9 PM
Saturday Art Walk August 12, 2017 / 5-9PM




Red Circle Sponsors: Kevin Lane

Related Video

Icons are everywhere, from television personalities to billboard advertisements, we are continually confronted with portraiture. This exhibition, pairing works from artists Wayne Davis and Dimitri Lykoudis, explores the roles modern icons hold in our society. Davis' works are created after observing and reflecting on a given moment taken from a televised story line. Lykoudis' series, "Secular Saints", reflects on how portraiture promotes stereotypes and serves as a form of social reflection.


Before moving to the United States, I had a career as a Byzantine icon painter in Athens, making murals and icons for the Greek church. During my 10 years in New York, this translated into my own version of portraiture, using the same methods, but pushing it into realism in a series of New York art dealers. In effect, I was creating iconic interpretations of the subjects, though the result could be seen as realistic. It is something that hearkens directly to the origins of Western art, such as the Egyptian Fayoum portraits which have been a great influence.

After moving to the Tampa Bay area, I was struck by the amount of attorney advertising in billboards, radio, TV etc., and especially the use of photographic portraiture to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the lawyer, in the same way painted portraits of saints connected the worshiper with the divine. On thinking further, I realized that attorneys, like saints, are power figures to which the lay person goes for help, persons that can navigate through the incomprehensible, and that posses an almost arcane power to solve problems.

At the same time, after browsing through hundreds of phone book pages with attorney ads, I realized that in terms of demographics, the advertising lawyer population is strongly represented by middle-aged white males, in a tie and suit, the very icons of American prosperity as we are taught to see it.
That iconic representation, together with the intermediary function that I mentioned before, prompted me to paint this series, which I call "Secular Saints".

My goal is to explore how portraiture is used to promote stereotypes, and to focus on particular aspects of attorney advertising (that juxtapose negative occurrences such as accidents with images of prosperity), as a form of social reflection.


Before I began drawing seriously about 6 years ago I made my living as an architect and never considered myself to be an artist although I did use a pencil often in my work. There was a certain correlation between teaching myself to draw and studying Tibetan Buddhism (both happened to begin about the same time; at the end of a 20 year marriage).

My current works, close portraits of iconic TV personalities, came about after a simple observation. Those TV people looked interesting had wonderful costumes and the lighting was very interesting (yet often quite dark). The models I generally chose are expressing a connection to the particular scene and story line at that moment. However, that connection had no bearing for my selection and intended result.

My subjects are taken out of context and flavored with my particular insight which usually involves modifying the lighting, radically cropping the scene, changing the background or any combination of the above. In the beginning I used only 6B pencil on Plate Finish Bristol with NO blending at all. (I had established a no blending rule for myself as I thought that’s what “real artists” did.)

As I continued to search for my own “path”, my tools changed slightly. The 6B became a mix of B, 2B, 4B, and 6B with an emphasis on 2B. I also began blending with my finger, and then a stump and then a small piece of paper towel (sometimes all three in one exercise).

The internet has afforded all of us the ability to see (if only in a thumbnail version) what some other visual artists are doing. I am indeed humbled by what I have seen and I am obviously drawn to photorealism. Having said that, I have no desire to become a camera. I want my drawings to look and feel like drawings. The term I like to use is “abstract realism” such that some of the (possibly indiscernible) smudges can attain a life of their own and influence the viewer to fill in the gaps for him/herself.

For me, there is almost no difference between what takes place within me when I draw and when I meditate (Shamatha-Vipashyana). A state of “peaceful abiding” is achieved. This is why I draw.