Schaus Swallowtail Icon
16 in. x 16 in., Gouache & gold leaf on panel. 2021. Private Commission & Collection (Brooklyn, NY). This work represents the latest "distressed" direction of the Artist's ongoing "Icon Series". All artwork & images ©2022. Peter D. Gerakaris. a.r.r. ICON SERIES by PETER D. GERAKARIS — Set within a luminous context of metaphysical symbolism and Byzantine brushwork, the Icon Series transposes endangered species of exotic plants and creatures from around the globe as the iconographic characters of our contemporary natural environments. Inspired by the rich traditions and distinctive styles ranging from the Cretan-Venetian School of icon painting to Italian Renaissance art, Gerakaris relishes the processes of gold leafing and painting on wooden panel by hand — a sacred process by which the object and picture ultimately frame a view into another dimension. As the series presently evolves, the artist has begun translating his iconography into new, yet distinctly Byzantine mediums such as mosaic. This includes a site-specific Spotted Owl Mosaic “garden folly” installation at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, placed like an archeological fragment that entices interaction with its public audience. The latest paintings also deploy a more poignant, antique feel through their distressed materiality. Here, the artist intentionally abrades fragile gold leaf, while chiseling away and burning the edges of wooden panels. These fragmented edges and marred surfaces are meant to echo our society’s fractured relationship with an increasingly distressed natural environment. In addition to meditating on his own Cretan-Greek ancestry, the artist’s genuine fascination with art history and love for the natural world — coupled with an urgency to mend the Nature-Culture divide — form the core of this intimate series.