Words From an Artist: Petro Psillos on Two Cinema-Inspired Drawings

Concordia Artist Translates His Experience Working at Movie Theatre Into Visual Art

‘The Crack Reflecting X-Scape’ by Petro Psillos. Colouring pencil and promarker on paper mounted on wood panel, 30.6 cm x 40.5 cm, 2020. Courtesy Petro Psillos

In this series, Concordia artists profile themselves, offering a window into their inspiration, their process, and their work.

I react to change very negatively. In an effort to bring change to a halt, I return to 2005 when I draw. That’s the year Famous Players sold its movie theatres to Cineplex. The giant saucer-shaped building still remains in Laval, but was rebranded over the last decade. Today, as an employee at that movie theatre, I’m still fascinated by the otherworldly architecture of the UFO as I once was as a kid. I get backstage access to the inner workings of the building, and I am constantly immersed in the sounds of the arcades, the lights from the neons, and the smell of popcorn and sweat.

This job shaped me and my art practice, and also helped cover the tuition fees for my bachelor of fine arts in painting and drawing at Concordia University. After graduating this year, I translated all my learnings from school and work into my drawings. The Crack Reflecting X-Scape and Zero In and Catch Me, explore the visual possibilities of texture, colour, and composition from the cinema’s surrounding references.

The Crack Reflecting X-Scape

On the left a hollow conical pillar wrapped in glowing neon tubing supports a mirror-faced polygonal pyramid. Each side of the latter reflects different nooks spread across the cinema. The middle one reflects some arcade games and distant neon lights from the X-Scape, the name given by the theatre chain to its entertainment centre within its cinemas. Visually, the bright red diffuses on every surface and defines each geometric shape; a nod to 20th-century art movements like cubism and constructivism. The play on words of X-Scape and escape is also important because of the idea of a little crack reflecting an escape, an opportunity to free oneself from one’s feelings of entrapment. The poetic value is fundamental for the artist because it is always returning to the romanticization of the past.

‘Zero In and Catch Me’ by Petro Psillos. Colouring pencil, promarker and oil paint on paper mounted on wooden panel, 41 cm x 30.5 cm, 2020. Courtesy Petro Psillos

Zero In and Catch Me

Two bulbous forms sit on top of one another: one is slick in bright red gloss, and the other is metallic with a grid patterned over one side. The true reference for this composition is taken from the back of a motorcycle game called Dead Heat Riders that is also found in X-Scape. Formally, the object is flipped upside-down and takes on a superficial anthropomorphism appearing like a masked head atop shoulders. The title hints to a chase taking place, where one party is taunting the other. It continues the theme of escape presented in the previous work.