Often inspired by Greece, artist Ben Fuog is presenting a new exhibition at Yering Station titled ‘Four Givens, The Great Pearl and Ikaria’.

Fuog may not be Greek but he has fallen in love with Greece in almost the same way he has fallen in love with his Greek Australian wife, with whom he has also partnered.

His latest exhibition follows on from a Hellenic theme running through his most recent work and exhibitions, entitled ‘Μολών λαβε΄'(Come and Take)’, ‘Athena Ascending’ and his recent Doug Moran National Portrait prize semi-finalist painting, Yanis Varoufakis.

Fuog enjoys bringing forward the inner significance of things through his art, something he has previously done with Athens during the worst time of the financial crisis, in 2011.

Portrait of Yanis Varoufakis, from the series ‘People’. Photo: brettgoldsmith.com.au

Then the painter focused on the strikes and the garbage-filled streets of the city amidst strikes and protests. He then presented a second body of work touching on the Athenian people’s strength and will to move forward back in 2014. Although the capital has been the main source of his inspiration so far, somewhere between his many and extensive travels in Greece, he came across Ikaria.

“Ikaria is a very special place to me. I was introduced to the island by my wife in 2009,” the Philhellene explains to Neos Kosmos.

“The three times I’ve been to Ikaria it has showed itself as a challenging, mythical place, an alternative reality. It gave me an opportunity to look within myself, something I’ve been told is common to its visitors.”

There was something about this relaxed island “where people forget to die” that exudes hope, the kind of hope Greece’s tormented people need.

“I’ve wanted to have an exhibition revolving around Ikaria since I saw my friend Stavros Karnakis’ (a ceramist) exhibition in Armenistis,” he explains.

“It was opposite his now studio, and I remember the hot summer wind blowing through the exhibition space and his friends and tourists perusing his work with a waft of gyros in the background.”

Self-portrait of Ben Fuog.

Around the same time Fuog was also introduced to existentialist psychotherapist Irvin J Yalom and his ‘four givens’, which almost in a magical way seemed to co-align with his experiences on Ikaria and in life.

“Death and Life, Meaninglessness and Meaningfulness, Freedom and Responsibility, and finally Isolation and Connectedness. Together they gave me a concept, an idea and a focal point to paint my Ikarian experience,” Fuog muses.

“The end result is ‘Four Givens, The Great Pearl and Ikaria’.”

The exhibition ‘Four Givens, The Great Pearl and Ikaria’ consists of 13 pieces; seven large 3x2m oil paintings, a 2x2m oil painting, a 76x76cm acrylic painting and four hanging installations (a neon piece, a lead-light piece, an acrylic glass piece and an iconography piece).

Where: First Floor Gallery at Yering Station
When: 28 October-29 November

For more information, go to www.benfuog.com