We intended to highlight the 20/20 Visionaries-to-Watch featuring Nicholas Kontaxis much earlier in 2020, but we found it wise to hold his story until it felt right to release.
When you think of the word vision, you almost immediately associate that word with sight, your sensory ability. It is something required to turn a thought into innovation. To have vision doesn’t specifically mean the ability to see something physically, but rather an intention or inclination to create change.
At the beginning of 2020, OBVIOUS had intentions of using our vision to create new stories, highlight new outlooks, and continue offering the cutting edge content that our viewers have grown to love over the years.
What started out as a promising new decade quickly turned into a dark age of disorder as COVID-19 became a global threat that altered all of our realities.
Amid the pandemic, the masks of American “justice” started to show themselves more clearly than ever before as an uprising from the Black Lives Matter movements called out the wrongful murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of police brutality.
One thing was sure: It clouded our vision.
There needed to be some refocusing of what matters and what messaging #TeamOBVIOUS could provide to its audience that would resonate with something optimistic and hopeful.
The world has now spent more than half of the year enduring the stress of these trying times, yet we can still look towards the people making a difference as a means of inspiration.
There’s no doubt that the individuals selected in this article showcase a tenacity and touch of creativity that has shown the potential for greatness in their lives and for others.
They’ve used their heart and motivation to strive for change and create space for new generations to learn from them.
It is with great honor that OBVIOUS Magazine presents: The 2020 Visionaries To Watch.
20/20 Visionaries: Nicholas Kontaxis at Nicholas Kontaxis Studios
(Interview questions answered by brother, Michael Kontaxis, and mother, Krisann Kontaxis)
How can creatives use art as a means to overcome adversity?
Nicholas Kontaxis: For Nicholas, art isn’t his purpose, but a representation of it. The tortured artist is a common trope, but Nicholas defies this in so many ways. Rather than being defined by his hardships, he is defined by the goodness of his personhood. This purity of spirit results in artworks that are as inspiring as he is.
Art is not his path to salvation, but a reflection of a person already far along the road. Personally, I am incredibly grateful that his art has given so many others the ability to encounter and be inspired by the person he has always been, in a way that would likely not have been possible otherwise.
What does Nicholas bring to the art world that sets him apart from other artists?
Nicholas Kontaxis: Nicholas is very distinct in both his work ethic and outcome independence. His process is prolonged, often with long pauses between each stroke—and yet, he is incredibly prolific, with hundreds of paintings to his name, with an enormous amount of textural depth on each canvas.
It is a testament to the power of accomplishment, not utilizing sporadic bursts of genius, but by consistently spending time painting every day for several hours a day. Additionally, he carries a fearlessness with him that is reflected in his artistic process.
Hopes does not inform his art of critical affirmation; he creates not for the end result, but for working itself. You could take all of his paintings at his latest exhibition, light them on fire in the center of the room in front of him—and he would just smile at the flames and continue working the next day.
He is not a visionary because he can imagine what his future will be and tries to attain it—he is a visionary because he creates his future by living in the present.
What words of encouragement would you give to the next generation that will follow in your footsteps?
Nicholas Kontaxis: To the next generation—follow Nicholas’ example of goodness. His pure heart guides his work and his life, and whoever has even a bit of his humility and love will live a very blessed life, no matter how much adversity may come along the way.
How have you or your business had to pivot during this global pandemic?
Nicholas Kontaxis: When COVID-19 became a pandemic, Nicholas had just begun work on three large commissions, so luckily, he has been able to focus on completing and mastering those pieces.
The beauty of an artist is that he or she essentially operates in quarantine and is quite comfortable in isolation, so for Nicholas, his art has thankfully been able to continue.
The most significant effect will be scheduling his future shows. In the meantime, the emphasis is on the work and its evolution. However, the most important thing is how in this fluid world and situation surrounding us, there are so many people in the creative world impacted by COVID-19.
There has been a significant disruption in galleries, museums, and art shows, so hopefully, as a creative community, we can weather the storm together as artists do so well, while also keeping the physical health of ourselves and our loved ones intact.
Photo Credit: Tali Song Roth
View the entire 20/20 Visionaries List here.