Greek Painter Dedicates Athens Mural to the History of Olive Oil Production

In his latest work, Stelios Faitakib seeks to show the long and storied history of Greek olive oil production through a uniquely Greek medium.
Stelios Faitakib
Dec. 9, 2020
Sofia Spirou - Agronews

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With his dense and intense style of street art, painter Stelios Faitakib takes a pen­e­trat­ing look at domes­tic olive grow­ing, using the vocab­u­lary of the Greek Orthodox Church in his lat­est work: The olive tree as a world sym­bol of sports, cul­ture and peace.”

In the indus­trial zone of Piraeus Street, out­side the Elais build­ing – one of the biggest olive oil com­pa­nies in the coun­try and a patron of the work – his most recent cre­ation is a huge mural that describes the his­tory of olive pro­duc­tion.

I could have done a group of work­ers laugh­ing at some point but again the seri­ous­ness on their faces would pre­vail.- Stelios Faitakib, artist

The mural is divided into parts in a nat­ural way with pauses, show­ing olives trees between episodes,” Faitakib said. Starting from the left is the award of an olive wreath of the Olympics. Then Athena is shown com­pet­ing with Poseidon, the god of the seas, for the patron­age and pro­tec­tion of the city of Athens.”

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Stelios Faitakib

Workers pick olives, while to the right an elderly cou­ple takes a break from work to eat a meal con­tain­ing olives and olive oil,” he con­tin­ued. The mural takes a look at peo­ple work­ing to press olives in an old, tra­di­tional olive mill.”

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It was very inter­est­ing for me to cap­ture the evo­lu­tion of time in the mak­ing of olive oil,” Faitakib added. Things are com­pletely dif­fer­ent now. Therefore I con­sider it good to illus­trate the episodes of the mak­ing of olive oil in the suc­ces­sion of cen­turies.”

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Part of what makes the mural stand­out in this his­toric city is its sheer size: the length is about 120 meters and the height between three and four meters. Both its size and loca­tion led to a unique series of chal­lenges for the cel­e­brated painter.

The dif­fi­cul­ties were pre­cisely the size and loca­tion of the spot, in com­bi­na­tion with the sea­son (it was August),” he said. The exe­cu­tion of the project was a great chal­lenge. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to be able to work in rel­a­tively good con­di­tions in the morn­ing. I could never, from what I remem­ber at least, con­tinue to work after 4:00 p.m. with the sun on my back and neck.”

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Mural by Stelios Faitakib

As with almost all of his work, Faitakib uses the famil­iar lan­guage of iconog­ra­phy of the Greek Orthodox Church to tell the story of the olive tree, which is also deeply rooted in Greek cul­ture.

I use iconog­ra­phy as the basis of my work in the same way that I would pri­mar­ily use the Greek lan­guage if I were a poet,” he said. I am inter­ested in the fact that the visual lan­guage’ I use is the lan­guage that indi­cates the ori­gin of a work when one sees it in the world, as well as that it speaks to a wide audi­ence.”

However, part of what helps Faitakib’s lat­est work stand out at home is the seri­ous expres­sions of the peo­ple in his paint­ing, which is jux­ta­posed with the more cheer­ful dis­po­si­tion of other Athenian street art.

Olive pro­duc­tion is quite tedious and demand­ing… at least that’s how it seemed to me when I did it,” Faitakib said. I could have done a group of work­ers laugh­ing at some point but again the seri­ous­ness on their faces would pre­vail.”


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