The Art and the Artist at The Syntopia Hotel
Xanadu, if not the name, will be familiar to those who vacation at The Syntopia on Crete Island. The jumbo graffiti mural adorning a whitewashed exterior wall of the hidden jungle pool is a metaphor named after a Mongolian myth depicting an idyllic place full of opulence where all the wishes come true. And that is just what we want The Syntopia to mean: an idyllic, exotic, and safe space where you forget all your worries, find your inner balance, and fill your soul with beauty.
Although the name of the artwork is of Mongolian origins, Xanadu is an allegoric representation of Elysium, which, according to Homer, is “a land of perfect happiness at the end of the Earth, on the banks of the Oceanus.”
The mural features a portrait of a young woman framed by exotic flowers and foliage, with a magpie in flight in the foreground: the magpie symbolizes good luck and is the mythical messenger of Dionysus, the god of harvest and wine.
Street art will become an integrated part of The Syntopia’s identity, and Xanadu is the first step in that direction. Thessaloniki-based graffiti writer and artist APSET created the eye-catching mural in 2021. The artwork has since inspired many Instagramable moments.
APSET used photorealism and a blend of techniques and symbolism to create a work of art that communicates The Syntopia’s eccentric charm and promise of delivering a haven where guests will experience unforgettable holiday moments. In other words, Xanadu hides within the values that fuel The Syntopia’s hospitality concept: unity, humanity, acceptance of all cultures, human connection, love, wholeness, nowness, The Syntopia gypset philosophy, and the essence of travel and exploration.
APSET himself is a young artist whose impressive murals cover large-scale industrial compounds and entire blocks of flats. He is one of the founders of the Street Art Festival Thessaloniki (SAF) and a member of the Urban Act artistic team. Besides his work as a graffiti writer and street artist, APSET was also active as a sculptor and designed concepts for theme parks throughout Greece. He currently has two studios in Thessaloniki and works as an independent artist on a continuous journey of self-discovery.
“I don’t want to be stuck in just one style,” the artist said in an interview with Vagabundler.
And, as far as street art becoming part of The Syntopia identity, “it can help shape and define a sense of community and stands for freedom and creativity. We communicate our ideas, express our emotions, and connect through art.