THE ARTISTS I HAVE GROWN UP WITH | HERO KANAKAKIS (1945 - 1997)
I feel privileged to have grown up with and to have been very close to Hero. I knew her throughout the early years and teenage years of my life, up until her untimely, sudden death. Of all the artists who I was directly surrounded by growing up, she has probably influenced me the most. Not only was Hero an astonishingly talented artist but she was remarkably versatile. I saw her versatility in two clear senses. The first sense was within the medium of her painting, where I watched how her themes and approaches to painting evolved and shifted extensively over time, to the point where paintings by Hero from different periods are not easily recognised as being by the same artist. She shifted through entire schools of thought, through conceptual, theoretical and philosophical approaches, when she moved from one approach to another. She never repeated herself and never allowed anything to restrict her in what she attempted next. If anybody had ever tried to categorise or label her, they would have been in for a surprise, when seeing what she would have turned her hand at next. She was unbelievably changeable. The second sense in which I was always in awe of her versatility was in the very medium in which she worked, I saw her work in drawing, collage, textiles, craft and of course painting. In painting she worked both on canvases and on murals, the latter of which of course were architecturally contextual and exhibited yet another great talent of hers. Each medium displayed another side of her profound creative nature.
Of all the artist’s homes I have visited in my life, and I have visited a countless number, there was always something very special about Hero’s homes. During my early life Hero’s home was in London and later when she moved to Greece with her family, in Athens and in Pelion (her country house). There was an indescribable aura of warmth and creativity in all her homes. You felt as though you were in a hearth. There were warm wooden floors and furniture around you, cushions that she had embroidered herself and in the unique instance of her Athens home, every inch of wall and ceiling surface covered in murals. You were in her world. Her Athens home was one of the most unique artistic spaces I have ever been in. Her murals wrapped and swirled over the spaces in bright colours and bold forms with an energy that felt physical and tangible. This home felt like a real, living, breathing being.