giovedì 15 marzo 2018

Fantasy Visuals: Chris Achilleos

1979 - The Sentinel

Chris Achilleos is another iconic Fantasy artist from the ‘70s/'80s. Somewhat eclectic and independent mind, it is difficult to categorize him and his production. He used a variety of techniques and worked on many different subjects. Still, he is one of the most significant painters from that period, and in this post we’re going to take a look at his works. 

Christos Achilleos was born in 1947 in east Cyprus, in a village near Famagusta. At that time the island was still united as a Crown Territory of the United Kingdom. In the last ‘50s, Christos and his three siblings lost their father, and their mother left Cyprus and emigrated to the UK, where he would remain for all his life. At the time of his arrival in England, Christos was an early teenager and soon became interested in art: in 1966, at 19, he enrolled in the Hornsey College of Arts in London. During this time he experimented with many techniques, and notably with the airbrush, which would become popular in the late ‘70s among Fantasy artists.

After college, Achilleos started looking for commissions: he accepted all kinds of jobs at the beginning, working for advertising and on adult magazines, album and book covers, games. With time, building a reputation, he was able to focus on what he liked most, namely Fantasy art.

Achilleos was fond of drawing the female body, representing it with explicit sensuality - his early style draws obviously from Frazetta and Vallejo, although some elements of monsters and backgrounds seem to connect him with Roger Dean and Rodney Matthews. Here’s a quick look at his early works. 

1974 - Transit to Scorpio
1975 - The Bull and the Spear
1975 - The burning woman
1976 - Of men and beasts
1977 - Assassins of Gor
1977 - Beastmen
1977 - Amazon with zebra cloak, used as cover in the Uriah Heep 1978 album 'Fallen Angel'
Achilleos was consecrated as a famous artist by the commission he received in 1980 from Heavy Metal magazine, to draw the poster for the movie of the same name, released the following year. Achilleos also worked as a concept artist for the movie, especially designing the character of Taarna.
1980 - Taarna, poster for the movie 'Heavy Metal'
In the years to follow, Achilleos would go on working as a concept artists for other Fantasy and historical movies, namely Willow (1988), King Arthur (2004) and the Last Legion (2007).

In the 80s Achilleos continued to work on many book covers:

1983 - Cover for 'Elric at the End of Time' by M. Moorcock
1986 - 'Dragonspell'
1987 - Cover for 'Armies of Death' by I. Livingstone
1989 - 'Enter the Hero'
And also had several collaborations with Games Workshop, and it's not difficult to spot several elements of his style that were shared by other GW artists of the time, especially John Blanche.

1984 - Illustration for the game 'Middle Earth' by Games Workshop
1984 - Cover for the game 'Talisman' by Games Workshop
1987 - Judge Anderson
1990 - Alien War, a piece for Warhammer 40.000
Besides commissions, Achilleos painted for himself, too: most of his personal production focuses on sexy female characters portrayed in Fantasy or Sci-Fi settings, which he calls Amazons. He published as many as four books collecting them: Beauty and the Beast (1978), Sirens (1986), Medusa (1988) and Amazona (2004).

1978 - The Oath, originally published as a cover in Raven magazine
1981 - Boadicea
1984 - Eagle Rider, originally cover of 'War of Powers' pt. 2 by Vardeman and Milàn
1992 - Biker Valkyrie
1992 - Maya
1998 - Brunhilde

While being an independent artist, as we said, his influence on Fantasy art, especially on British artists, is undeniable. Today Chris Achilleos lives and works in London.

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