submitted by Rowan Parkes on 05.05.2004
A few days ago, the well known to Kythera artist Michael Stralek died at his home in Germany.
Stralek has been coming to Kythera for many years, and with him he brought his artwork, his paintings, his drawings and his puppets. Many of his landscape paintings of Kythera hang in restaurants and cafes of the island, bringing out the colours of the bracken, the many hues of the olive trees, the fields at twilight… other paintings depicted demons, fairies, and often women, past lovers or beautiful models he met on his travels.
His puppets however outshone his other work, with their colours and vibrancy, the long, clever faces and fingers, their lifelike movements and expressions as they submitted to the fancies of their maestro. Michael often preferred to enact the words of songs, both Greek and English, as much as stories, when he gave small sample shows to the children of the island. In years back he also gave workshops for any children who cared to come for free and partake of a little of his talent.
Michael loved Kythera, and contributed anything and everything he could to the islands culture with his work and ideas. However his repertoire stretches far beyond the boundaries of Kythera. He has worked with some of the finest artists of his time, in all areas of the arts, and perhaps gave up a great career to submit to his love of the island.
As a person, at least in the years that we knew him, he was flamboyant, loud and course, blusterous and yet often strangely affectionate or romantic, passionate and fiery tempered at times, a showman, an artist, and it would be an understatement to say he was eccentric. I remember once watching him completing a transaction with the islands bishop over a painting, and in my mind I framed the scene and the title “The saint and the sinner” flashed through my mind. His course humour and eccentricity, combined with a fine love and appreciation of art and beauty contained in the physique of the person he often described as the “kologermanos”, fixed to make up his strange misunderstood character.
His artwork was amazing, and it is only appropriate to pay tribute to his contribution to the islands culture and artistic background, the loss of such a person is a great one for Kythera, our condolences to those close to him…R.I.P Michael.
submitted by Steven Mallos on 20.07.2008
It is hard to believe that it has been 4 years since Michael Stralek's death. The last time I saw him was at an exhibition in the Potamos Cultural centre he held with my aunty, Voula Douly in 2001.
As a child I remember seeing his vibrant marionettes beautifully displayed in his shop window. It's sad to think that he has gone - yet another Kytherian character whose absence is felt.
Hopefully, someone can organise a retrospective of his work one day soon.
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