by Greg Michaelides
One of the most difficult fields to enter has to and most certainly is the Art field. Many young students dream of working their talents but are afraid to chase it. Yet one young Greek-American decided to overcome the impossibilities and tackle his dream. Dionisios Fragias a native of Kefalonia has not only attempted to chase his dream but to live it daily. Dionisios has done what most artists only dream about.
Since he was seven years old it was hard not to find him with a pencil, brush or crayon to make his mark in the world. He loved to sketch almost anything especially military pictures.
When he was in grammar school he had a choice of taking part in a music or art class, obviously he chose art. His parents obviously wanted him to pursue a more profitable field but nothing would deter Dionisios’ direction.
He soon attended The Leonardo Da Vinci High School in Queens where he became familiar with artists like Dali, Picasso and others. One of his classroom teachers just happen to be Greek, Mr. Theofilos who inspired him to never give up. At first he was unsure to pursue the art field after high school. He inturn took a few courses at Queens College to try a figure out what direction to go in.
“My parents wanted me to search for a more secure field and keep my art as a hobby. Maybe make money from it on the side, ” added Dionisios. He soon decided to make a business out of art and enrolled at FIT ( Fashion Institute of Technology) Manhattan, part time. He started off by takig classes in illustration where he came to appreciate artists like Norman Rockwell. Artists like Rockwell and Robert MaCall had influenced his work and style. Also during his many trips back to his homeland he admits that Greeces’ landscapes have been reflective in his work. At FIT another Greek professor Tony Kokouros introduced Dionisios to other aspects of painting.
After college he also realized the field of illustration was dieing and that a lot of his idols were changing from traditional illustration to computer imagery. Dionisios was to pursue the illustration market but did not want to waste his talent by using other artists ideas. ” I enjoy to paint to be creative. I would not be content in a studio where an art director will come to me and request I change the image to appeal to the job plan. I may sound selfish but I wanted to deliever a message with my work not solve others problems.”
Soon enough he came in touch with a well know Fine Artist Jeff Koons who took to Dionisios’ work and offered him to work in his gallery. Jeff Koons , whos work is in the tradition of Andy Warhol called the Neo Geo arts. His work has progressed since high school since working with Mr. Koons. When it comes to painting he prefers to work with oils. But recently he has started to work with video and film images. His work is made in a large scale between six to eight feet high. ” My work is like a moving image. A series of events in normal everyday society. It is all about manipulating society.”
Dionisios’ images are suppose to be reflective of society and how he perceives it. One large project he has worked on recently is designing large rugs which are sent to Turkey to be finished. He combines the rugs original image with graffitti. The outcome is incredible. This project can possibly take two years to complete. He has three art dealers that are already interested in his work. But he is doing his art not for financial gain but to get a message out.
” I love doing my work and that is what means the most to me. I like to manipulate my projects so the public can question the work and gather interest.”
Presently he is preparing a web site to showcase his work and maintains a studio on 37st and Lexington. He also welcomes studio visits. Many galleries have been open to present his work. But the most difficult thing to do is self promotion. ” You have to try to appeal to certain galleries and see if they will be willing to present your work. Some galleries are more judgmental on what they would like to house and what not to. They always receive about 30-50% of your sales. The people that buy large art pieces are the ones with big houses not your everyday individual.”
During college Dionisios entered the L.R. Hubbard Contest for Illustrators of the Future Series in Los Angeles where he came in the top six. The contest is run by the L.R. Hubbard Foundation where the funds are allocated to art and writing competitions. The winners are then offered a chance to either illustrate a new book or write one with the backing of the foundation. He also took part in the Strathmore Competition, a art supply company, where he placed second. Which was all within the ending of the 90’s.
He hopes that his work can be viewed and appreciated by the public not so much bought but that also helps. His family has always been judgmental of his employment but are proud of his accomplishments. If you are ever in the city make a stop by Dionisios studio and take in a rare art form.