Plaka, the rock shelf lying at the bottom of the Acropolis holds most of the human and mythological joys of Athens, and here we found Apostol.
Strolling towards the restaurants of Plaka from Monastiraki Square, escaping the early onset of the evening bongo drums, the feeling of being in a friendly market grows even as we pass shops filled with Filipino clothes, fake marble Zeus and family, intellectually stimulating T-shirts and ‘prefab’ icons – it is no worse than any other ‘classical’ market place and has the advantage of the occasional shade from the Parthenon.
The sellers seem to enjoy their chosen ‘profession’ so not all is a market for the unwary tourist – maybe the salesmen even like the tourists? In the middle of our stroll through these narrow streets of Plaka, at a crossing, we are immediately awakened from our private meanderings and captured by statues of two swordfish in a window on the opposite corner.
Hooked, we venture in, and are assailed by an array of large and small sculptures nearly all combining bronze and crystal glass – fish, octopi, Icarus, birds. As the visual saturation subsides and our initial excitement is sated, one of us focuses on a gentleman sitting inconspicuously at a desk towards the back of this studio, ’The Athens Gallery’, he, in a mode similar to a purveyor of old coins.
A few words are exchanged and we circumnavigate again, captured this time by a Shostakovich musical rendition in bronze, a piano celebrating ’Great Balls of Fire’ with two polished bronze hands disconnected from all reality. We could tell you more, even about the cello, but that may take away the joy of a personal exploration of this wonderful sculpture gallery.
On the third tour of the gallery, we notice increasingly that the best of the sculptures and music works have a small inscription, ’Apostol’ and Claudia, with a faint smile approaches the ‘numismatist’ and seeks confirmation: ‘Are you Apostol?’. He smiles and quietly acknowledges.
Apostol’s story is of a boy who loved art and whose drawings filled the board of his classroom for the Christmas celebration period. It is of a young man who, excited by the world, escaped his duty to the Greek gods, but once again found his destiny in art to fulfil his life.
It is the story of a man who started small, an artist and artisan, a man whose heart entered his sculptures, and a man who learnt the great challenges of casting in bronze, whether lost wax or sand, to pour out his heart again in molten bronze to create joyous works.
Apostol is thrilled by Icarus, recognising that, in Icarus, man was given the warning that we have and must recognise our limitations – that greatness may only come to the gods and the fortunate few who escape the laws of life. His gallery holds a statuesque bronze on the landing leading to the upper level, a statue in the mould of Michelangelo, but there are several other ‘portraitures in metal’ of this great dreamer of mythology.
For Apostol, the challenge was to accept that to escape the laws of life, one must become a memory. Through his work he seeks fame, which may be well deserved, but in his heart he still thrills to the ‘excitement’ of humility, where he observes the world admiring his art.
This is just the beginning of the story of a fine Greek artist, a follower of the Greek gods – find him one evening in Plaka and become part of it.