Since 5 December the sculpture Phylax by acclaimed artist Kostis Georgiou that was installed near the Palaio Faliro marina in Trokadero, Athens has been causing a stir, dividing Greek scholars and church officials.
The sculpture, that was commissioned by the Martinos shipping family has been donated to the Palaio Faliro Municipality and stands alone between the local chapels of Agios Georgios and Agia Skepi.
Since its installation, the Phylax has suffered two vandalism attacks; as a response to the Municipality naming it “guardian-angel” of the South Athens suburb even though the council and Mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis clarified that the Phylax does not symbolise the guardian angel as depicted in Christian faith.
Phylax, in ancient Greek means guard, watcher, and protector.
The vandals, however, proceeded to throw red paint on the statue as well as cut the power to the tram line that powers the art piece and keeps it illuminated at night.
Several members of the local community argued that the image of the red naked man with wings is provocative and symbolises Lucifer, the Dawn-Bringer, the satanic Morning Star, the Devil and so on.
“Who says that the colour of Satan is red? there are angels with red wings and red hair” artist Kostis Georgiou told Greek Channel Skai TV adding that “the criticism started by some ultras like newspaper Eleftheri Ora and the [fake] monk, self-proclaimed Father Kleomenis, a hate-preacher”.
“It is supposed that the opponents are Christians but their soul is anti-Christian,” Georgiou continued.
The latest incident comes from around 100 parishioners that last night decided to march from Panagia Myrtidiotissa church in Palaio Faliro, led by their local priest who sprinkled holy water on the art work to “exorcise its demons.”
“The sculpture is a demon and a soldier of Satan that, instead of being honoured, must be despised as blasphemous to the holy trinity,” parish priest Patapios Argyros wrote in his open letter to the Mayor.
“It is an affront to Orthodoxy and the Christian faith,” the priest continued.
Meanwhile, a signature collection among the residents of the suburb has begun to have the sculpture removed.