From Uruguay, to Athens, a Giant , a talent, the geomythology and the STARTS Programme.
Konstantinos Fais was born and raised in the city of Ioannina in 1987, where he still lives today. Studied at the Department of Civil Engineering, at Technical University of Bari in Italy [POLIBA), he also has a certificate of specialization in Financial Management and Management of Health Units from the Department of Economics of the University of Ioannina. From the age of 6 he had two passions, Art and History. In 2010 he started the thorough study of the ancient Greek literature (TLG – Thesaurus Linguae Graecae) and in addition to the Roman literature (TLL – Thesaurus linguae Latinae), with the aim of depicting it through his artistic momentum and cultivating it in 2017, his first exhibition took place . Since then, at regular intervals, he organizes painting exhibitions all over Greece with all of his works, without exception, related to the ancient Greek literature, while the materials with which he implements them are, mainly, pencil and ink and some of them with dry pastels. Apart from the study of ancient scripts, his inspiration is based on ancient finds such as black and red vases, reliefs, busts, statues, coins, jewelry and tombstones. In 2019 he expanded thematically into two new sectors: One is World Historic Shipping, his goal is to focus primarily on ships famous in history, most of them shipwrecks. The other is the Prehistoric era, from the Upper Neolithic to the Pleistocene in order to approach its relation with Greek and worldwide Mythology. Prehistory, is defined as events that occurred before the existence of written records in a given culture or society.
His latest work the Smilodon Populator’s sculpture* for which he published that he would collaborate with scientists, archeologists, and metal-workers, draw the attention of MADE’s team, as an exceptional case of the transdiciplinarity that STARTS supports.
Starting on Summer 2020 ,under the Artist Residency scheme, Konstantinos joined the team of creators for the STARTS – RSC project, with the aim to complete the work of the installation , by digitalizing the sculpture for educational reasons in collaboration with the Athens Tech College and the schools of Ioannina.
Indeed, the sculpture was completed and the operation for transferring from Ioannina to Athens the valuable and fragile pieces of the Giant, was organized during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The sculpture was transferred in the high-tech scanning facilities of 3DHUB at the city of Athens. There, with special capturing devices, experienced technicians and by the fundamental support of Mr. K. Koutretsos, every single one of the 51 pieces of the skeleton was 3D scanned. The whole process lasted 3 days and high-resolution object models were provided, suitable for either commercial applications or educational purposes.
*The story of the Smilodon Populator’s revival:
The sculpture is related to the sector of Prehistory. More specifically, the subject dates back on the Pleistocene period and it’s about the biggest Sabertooth’s specimen ever found. On March 16th, a Joshua Sokol’s article in New York Times, draw artist’s attention. A massive Smilodon Populator’s skull, the ‘’MNHN P – 957’’ (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Departamento de Paleontologıa) was found in the land of Uruguay, first drugged up by an amateur collector, Ricardo Praderi, back in 1989. He then donated it to the archives of the National Museum, according to Mr. Manzuetti.
Smilodon Populator became widespread in South America, significantly bigger and more robust than its North American brother, S. Fatalis, it was able to feed on even the most giant prey of their era, in other words it was at the top of the food chain, a Conqueror of its era. Allometric equations revealed that this remarkably big skull once belonged to a ”Hulk-smashed” 435 kg individual. In other words twice as big as an African lion, and with huge fangs. So, given that the artist is fascinated about these, anatomically admirable, beasts, as soon as he detected the source of last March, in which the above mentioned finding was praised, immediately he was given the idea of reconstructing the major part of the animal’s skeleton. So, beyond the skull, he had to add the mandible, the neck, the shoulder, thoracic bones, lumbar bones, sacrum part of pelvis bone and the tail and that was the idea. He had to obtain morphology and corresponding dimensions of the rest of the body’s structure and by using clay parts on iron reinforcement, he would bring to life the beast’s skeleton. By the help of Mr. Aldo Manzuetti, he used two basic resources for that purpose:
1) The famous research of Mendez – Alzola, for the Notorious ”El Smilodon Bonaerensis Muniz” of 1933 from Argentina and
2) The book of John C. Merriam/ Chester Stock ”The Felidae of Rancho La Brea”of 1916, from USA, regarding various specimens of the smallest, but with similar morphology, Smilodon Californicus of the same period.
Step by step he studied all the osteological/osteomorphical structure and considering that the skull found in Uruguay is 13% bigger than the respective one of the, notorious and also big Smilodon Bonaerensis described by Muñis in 1845( or Machaerodus neogaeus, named by Hermann in 1866 ), he enlarged every other single bone by 13% as well. He dedicated more than 1200 hours ( 7 months ) and almost 60 kg of clay to complete it, separately from the iron base. It’s in 1:1 scale, which translates in a total length of almost three meters, measured from the front of the skull to the tail.
The artist believes that discoveries like this, the giant Machairodus Horribilis of China and many other massive mammals, provide strong evidence of gigantism in the planetary evolution of the species, so it can potentially be connected to Geomythology. The term was first coined by Dorothy Vitaliano in 1968 and attempts to allege geological events to Mythology and encourages us to rethink wisely our ancestors’ legends and worldwide History.