Atonement – PRELUDE
Firstly I am not a religious man, my faith as it is and belief is based around the tenets of scientific fact, theories such as Evolution and the Big Bang, yet I can not really describe my feelings for this kit in such a manner, just looking at this figure invokes in me, emotions of the spirit. Atonement is the central message in the Bible (Old Testament), the way for mankind to once again have an harmonious relationship with God and to be forgiven.
The word Atonement is of Middle English and Medieval Latin, dating back to early 16th Century and was derived from “ relating to the idea of reconciliation. The title and the actual sculpture are perfectly suited to each other and I think it is the title along with the beauty, romance and delicate detailing of the piece that automatically generates with me feelings that can not just be expressed physically and biologically. As such this piece moves me in the way that only true Art can and make no mistake this is Art.
Michael Kontraros spoke to me back in August, informing me he had a surprise for me at Euromilitaire in Folkestone the following month. The weekend of Euro I met Michael and the rest of the Greece crew, Marios and Ant, Michael was putting Atonement into the competition and he leaned into me and with a smile said “for you my friend, one of these will be yours, a gift from one Artist to another. You are a good man Jason and a good friend too” wow, I was in shock, I spent several hours just walking around with a stupid smile on my face and when I told my wife Kerri (who generally has little interest in the world of figure painting), she was shocked too!
It is one thing to receive something to write a review in exchange, this is a mutually beneficial service yet to receive something as a gift from an amazing Artist truly does make you feel particularly appreciative and loved.
Let us have a look at the details of the kit.
THE KIT DETAILS
The following information pertains to the Limited Edition version only:
- 170 numbered copies ONLY. Wooden box “L19cm x W19cm x H18cm”, Atonement concept art printed on the box, Unique Laser Engraved collectors serial number on the box
- Colour box art print 17cm x 17cm
- One laser engraved plastic sheet 5.7cm x 8.7cm (book page), Two extra blank plastic sheets 5.7cm x 8.7cm (extra book pages), One photoetched sheet 14cm x 9.2 cm (flowers, decorative book borders, atonement name plate), Michael Kontraros Collectibles Sticker 6cm x 6cm
- All pieces are safely packaged within the wooden box in black foam
- Twelve highly detailed resin parts:
- One Book, One Bookmark, Three swords, One Knight Figure, Two spurs (for Knight figure), Two wings (for Knight figure), One Princess top half, One Princess bottom half
- Details of Colour box art print 17cm x 17cm
- Details of One laser engraved plastic sheet 5.7cm x 8.7cm (book page), Two extra blank plastic sheets 5.7cm x 8.7cm (extra book pages)
- Details of One photoetched sheet 14cm x 9.2 cm (flowers, decorative book borders, atonement name plate)
ATONEMENT – ORDER INFORMATION
The big question for many is WHEN can I buy “Atonement?” the answer being from March 16th 2017, at 6 PM Athens (Greece) time, until stocks last, remember there are only 170 copies of the Limited Edition version. Shipping of all orders will commence on March 27th 2017.
Time zone conversions:
Paris – 5 PM
London – 4 PM
Rome – 5 PM
Berlin – 5 PM
New York – 11 AM
Los Angeles – 8 AM
Hong Kong – Midnight
Sydney – 3 AM
At the point of writing this, as far as I was aware, 97 copies were still available with 73 being SOLD within the first 18 minutes!!
Simultaneously with the launch of this spectacular kit, Michael unveiled his new, sleekly designed website where you can place your order. Payment is done through Paypal, the kit will cost you €198, shipping throughout Europe will cost €12.50 whilst Rest of the World will cost just €16.
The new site not only boasts a full catalogue of Michael Kontraros Collectibles figures for you to purchase but also the complete gallery of his award winning, scratch built, non commercial projects such as the iconic Leviathan, the beautiful Fallen Angel and the creative The King is Dead!
What better way to find out a little more about this incredible kit than to speak to the man himself, he remains somewhat humble and embarrassed about the success of the figure within the competitive circuit and was incredibly anxious leading up to it’s commercial release, yet I managed to prise a few answers. Here is what Michael had to say:
1 – I understand Atonement was created during an emotional chapter of your life and it clearly shows in the beauty of the piece. Can you describe this creative process?
Atonement was sculpted during a very emotional time for me indeed. I wanted to do this project for a long time, so, when the time was right, I just started to sculpt.
2 – How long did it take for you to fully sculpt the project?
The sculpting of this project took about 2 to 3 months and the painting about 2 months also and was done by my friend Kyriakos Simos, who has painted many of my other scratch built projects.
3 – What was your reasoning for making the piece commercially available?
This was a very important, personal project that I wanted to keep. I didn’t wanted to give it to a collector. Instead I wanted to share it with the rest of the modelling community and I am glad that so many people appreciate it.
4 – How many awards did it win on the competition circuit last year?
I am blown away by the reception this piece received from my peers and judges, I do not get tired of seeing the looks on peoples faces and all the comments were so positive and supportive, I am very appreciative to everyone that has supported me.
- Crystal Brush – USA – Best of Show
- Euromilitaire – UK – Best of Show
- Scale Model Challenge – holland – Best of Show Fantasy
… i think that’s it!
In addition, my Freakshow project took the following awards too, I believe over the last five years or so I have been very fortunate to receive many Best of Show awards, I think that the imagination and original themes of these scratch-built projects are integral to their success.
- Lugdunum Show – Lyon – Best of Show Fantasy – The Freak Show
- MFCA Show – USA – Best of Show Fantasy – The Freak Show
5 – Can you describe a little the Artistic and professional relationship you have with the incredibly talented Kyriakos Simos?
Kyriakos is indeed a very talented painter and a friend. The painting process is complex. I always give instructions to the painters. I do that because I want a specific atmosphere and feeling in each project. Of course I always listen to the painter and what he is suggesting. I trust Kyriakos, not only for his painting skills, but also for his great imagination so it was fun working with him again!
He understands what I want and does it the best way possible!
6 – Despite the strength and rigidity to the winged “knight” there also seems a fragility to the character, was that intentional?
Yes it was! (well that was short and sweet Ed).
7 – Can you explain the importance of the book in the sculpt?
The book is very important for the composition. The project is about a love story… so…
The kit was based on a piece of beautiful personal Art by Georgios Dimitriou and cast by Jimmy Ogyon. The more I looked into this release the more I realised how complex and involved the whole project was from concept to cast to sculpt to the incredible photography by Stelios Demiras.
I spoke with Georgios about the Artwork that so moved Michael, here is what he had to say:
“The original piece of art, the drawing, is actually part of a series of drawings in a sketchbook that developed as a visual record of a particularly intense period in my life. It’s drawn in pencils and then mildly detailed digitally, nothing really elaborate. The image relates to an inside joke with my lover at the time and frankly, it was originally intended as a piece of flattery for a beautiful woman.
It depicts a highly romanticised version of the state of our relationship at the time, a weird and fierce affair that was equal parts pity, passion and self destruction for all involved. The image was meant to capture the moments of serenity in that affair, the depiction of the characters relates to certain aspects of their behaviour…
To cut a long story short, Michael an acquaintance for some time, took an interest in the image and felt inspired to sculpt it. I suppose he put into the final sculpt as much effort and passion as he could muster as he has brought it beautifully to life”.
The box itself is wonderful, the pyrogravure sketch to the lid is also the official concept art, with the side of the box detailing the number of the release. When you slide the lid off, you are presented with an overwhelming amount of material, all of which is protected within multiple layers of cut and shaped foam.
We have the boxart by Kyriakos Simos printed onto a high quality paper, the paper reminds me of the Strathmore series of drawing paper I used to use for my charcoal drawings. We have the obligatory sticker to adorn our wet palette lid or carry case along with a rectangular business card which can easily be used as a bookmark, if you’re a keen reader like myself. We also find two ziplock bags, one contains three sheets of plastic, two of which are blank ad the third has the laser engraved detailing that you see on the finished project. The other bag contains two small sprues of parts. Then we are in to the nitty gritty of this incredible sculpt.
In addition we have twelve polyurethane resin parts of an incredible detailed nature along with an envelope containing one sheet of brass etch depicting the flowers and decorations of the book along with the nameplate etc.
Let’s look at the focus of this piece, the two protagonists, the winged “knight” and the princess. As I mentioned in the interview there is a tenderness and fragility to the knight. A close look will show a considerable amount of detail and textures to the armour, yet it retains a rawness and an organic edge that really helps to narrate the story before us.
The height and slenderness of the long limbs also helps to convey the message that our knight, despite his armour, is delicate and somewhat vulnerable. It is a love story that also beneath the surface makes you ask questions of the piece, why does only the knight have wings? why is he wearing a faceless helm? why the skulls? what is the relevance of the book? It is all of these factors along with the quality of the sculpt that makes this piece so original and appealing to so many people on so many levels.
The knight is almost sculpted as a single piece, the left arm needs attaching and the right arm finishes at the forearm. The left arm is actually sculpted to the upper body of the princess, rising up along her arm and around the back of her head, the hand gently holding the scalp. Both arms of the princess are sculpted, up in front of her so that when this piece is attached to the knight, her wrists attach perfectly to her hands which are sculpted, resting upon the neckline of the knight, thus completing their embrace.
Next we need to attach her lower body, this is done via a square peg and hole assembly and this displays the clever cut to the parts for casting. Around her waist and thus covering the join, we have the knights right forearm clasping her right hip. The facial features of the princess are delicate and the lips are pouted, that attach perfectly to the dip in the faceless helm. The hair is nicely rendered , it is posed in such a fluid way that it creates the illusion there is movement involved, whether that is some sort of spiritual or fantastical symbolism or the knight spinning her around, I am unsure and again can come down to personal interpretation.
This sense of movement is further heightened with the flowing folds to her dress, her slender, naked legs and feet protruding from beneath, again raised and positioned in such a way to continue to force the effect of motion. On one of the folds I have a very thin patch, that looks like an air bubble had exploded and immediately next to this is a small chip in the hemline of the dress, but both can be easily repaired.
The wings are intricately sculpted with multiple layers and a varying assortment of feather types, a closer look will also reveal how some are damaged and have been repaired, another hint at the fragility to the faceless knight. There is quite a bit of flash around the edges but again nothing that should pose any troubles. The pegs to the wings do not fit into the holes in the knights back and they will need to be cut or filed to size to fit.
The small parts consist of two long spikes that are the spurs in the heel of each foot along with a bookmark for the book and three blades of different styles and designs that are to be “stabbed” into the open pages of the book. Finally we have the book itself, which is simply stunning. There are in fact two versions of this, I would say the basic and the advanced.
The upper pages as we can see are both full of details however, for those who wish to challenge their modelling skills we have the plastic sheets from earlier, that can be weathered, cut and damaged and inserted for a more realistic effect, that will also enable you to make use of the bookmark element.
The ridged spine, leather cover, embossed detailing, the carefully and individually sculpted skulls all help along with the photo-etched flowers to portray the concept of the fairytale, the love story, the happily ever after. There are some minor defects to the casting, nothing sinister and the kit should assemble nicely with little or no gap filling required.
Never one to do anything by halves, I also managed to speak to Jimmy Ogyon regarding the task of casting the master scratch built project into a resin kit.
“When Michael came to me, with his new project, I was shocked. I said “man this is huge” . Several months have passed since then, that means many many hours of work, as making a scratch become a model kit is really not an easy task. We, people of Insomnia Casting Lab, used the best components we can find out there, that means, Smooth On Silicone and Resin. We made a new vacuum/pressure pot.
We studied for more than 80 hours the pieces on our desk, to find a way to cast them bringing the best result. So now, we are proud to have many ready kits of this amazing project in our hands, and more of them are “coming to life” in our lab, everyday to accomplish the limited edition. Hope you guys enjoy this kit, as much as we loved working on it”.
This is a challenging, complex and ultimately unique piece of figure Art that we all thought would never be available to us. I for one am very happy that Michael decided to release it commercially. It will offer many opportunities and challenges throughout the construction, using etched parts and the painting itself will also need to be carefully thought out. I have not decided yet if I will try my own colour scheme or try to replicate the beautiful boxart, whatever I go with, I just hope I can do this justice and provide a fitting tribute to the visionary, master sculptor that is Michael Kontraros.
I felt that a piece like this deserved a review that was a little different to what I would normally write, it has scored 5 stars in my review rating system across all of the criteria I assess and in addition I thought it might be a nice touch to ask some of Michael’s peers to give their impression of this great kit. I guess this acts as a tribute to both Michael and Atonement.
“A well thought out piece in terms of balance, colour harmony and weight. It delivers a heart-touching message with the crown detail – her holding it up to his head – making it perfect from the overview, the medium range, in to the quality and detail level and finally to the main focus. (Roman Lappat)”.
“Atonement is a truly powerful creation, filled with emotion and attention to detail. Thought out and planned carefully from beginning to end, a commercial meteor, the 5 stars of miniature projects. The perfect idea. (Rafael Garcia Marin aka Volomir)”.
One of the cleverest pieces for competition of the last years. Beautiful display of the idea and precise and smart presentation. (Alfonso Giraldes aka Banshee).
“There are a lot of fantastic pieces and artists around the world, but just some very few times someone can twist his work in to real poetry. Michael is a poet. Atonement is both poetry and a piece of pure craft art. Is simply one of the best things ever made in the miniature story”. (Francesco Farabi).
“We have all seen Atonement in the pictures, but when you have the pleasure of discovering it in real life you are just overwhelmed, and you can feel the emotion rising up all inside of you. Isn’t that what it is all about; emotion ! (Marc Mussat)”.
Thanks for reading, I hope you have found this interesting and if sadly you were unable to purchase one of the Limited Edition versions, I strongly believe that Michael intends to make the sculpt a general release in September 2017.[ABTM id=3764]