ArtAscent Review


Artist Soteris Sam Roussi has played with the power of symbolic images throughout his career. Today he still considers these forms as his "visual vocabulary."  Soteris builds his compositions through the discovery and reworking of these forms until he reaches the desired, striking effect. Soteris' passion for this potentiality of symbols was spurred on many years ago when he discovered the imagery of early hobo icons which were used for essential communication for transients traveling the countryside. Suddenly struck by the inherent information that these icons portrayed, Soteris contemplated each diagram's careful construction to maximize its message. Accordingly, Soteris began to experiment with similar symbolic constructions in his paintings, both building up and scraping away portions of his paintings to unearth emblematic elements as they appear.

As a young artist, Soteris was motivated toward this abstract approach by looking closely at the works of Wayne Thiebaud. Soteris' style soon emerged; he used basic and authentic elements. Comparing his style to paintings such as Nero Could Turn on a Dime or Lightning Rods, one can sense Soteris' play with rich form and symbolic references, a tendency that can be seen in early paintings by the famed abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. Similar to these early

Pollock paintings, Soteris' works evoke a similar sense of attack wherein rendered forms remind the viewer of the role of symbols and the expression of the artist himself as he conjures them. At the same time, his attention to the surface of the work makes Soteris' paintings more than just a selection of symbols; rather, his works and his consistent attention to the surface of the painting recall the ongoing contemplation of artists of the 20th century who worked with mono-dimensional surfaces. The destruction of the illusions of space were perhaps best illustrated in Lucio Fontana's slashed canvases of the 1960s and is in essence what Soteris is pursuing. While Soteris' approach is not as violent as Fontana's, Soteris' interest is in melding construction and destruction (or the building up and then the scraping away of the composition). His work speaks to artists interested in the illusion of the painted surface, and, for Soteris, it is the process of self-discovery.

Soteris Sam Roussi is a native of New York State. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has enjoyed an extended career of exhibitions and professional accolades, among them a Massachusetts Arts & Humanities Fellowship (1977). Though he is now retired, Soteris continues to paint in his private studio. 

By Alexis Culotta. PhD
ArtAscent, June 2017, v25


© Soteris Sam Roussi, 2017