Distinguished by the use of vibrant colors, Stephen Antonakos (1926 – 2013) was a pioneer in introducing neon into the realm of fine art, giving it new perceptual and formal meanings. Colored pencil drawings on paper and vellum, often in series, have been an equally rich practice of the artist.
Around 1960, when it was becoming clear that neon would be his primary medium, Stephen Antonakos called neon a “controlled paradise.” This phrase indicates both the innate rigor of his vision and his readiness to discover new possibilities. Neon is natural, an element of the earth, Number 10 on the Periodic Table. His art is based on light, scale, proportions, and the relations between geometric forms and their overall relation to their site. It has nothing to do with neon’s previous uses, only with its new capabilities as purely abstract linear and spatial color. Antonakos turned away from illusions, allusions, representations, metaphor and symbol.