The exhibition entitled
In this video you can see the exhibited artworks, as well as highlights from the opening night.
In this video you can see the exhibited artworks in the gallery.
A Place there…
Katia Varvaki’s most recent work includes mixed-media constructions of wooden beds, paper and plaster, and oil paintings on canvas.
The “spare”, unpainted constructions, from which a tree (a reference to life) protrudes, reflect personal experiences and evidence a tenacity of purpose and discerning attentiveness to the finest detail.
The oil paintings depict views of a garden during different seasons of the year that are inhabited, though not inspirited, by human figures, particularly children. The figures are surrounded by a host of symbols: keys, ladders, clocks, birds in trees and children on branches, nests with hatching clocks and farmer’s markets selling time. Although the paintings take their pictorial cue from reality, the unexpected combination of different elements and the elimination of atmosphere transport us to a world beyond reality where the real merges with the imaginary. The depiction of a real garden thus becomes the poetic space in which the myth the artist narrates can unfold. In other words, the garden, divided into levels of color, functions as a stage for a still, frozen action that is shrouded in the mists of time. What we see rendered in the inner ethereal light on the surface of the painting seems to be a conflation of memories that spring from the unconscious as dreams. Aided by color in predominant shades of pink-purple, they create an almost metaphysical mood, a space without air or real structure.
The colored levels also function as levels of time in a poetic version of the space-time continuum. Whether recollecting autobiographical memories or staging the images of dreams, the artist traces the levels of time and transports the observer through magic, myth and enigma to another reality, one divorced from the present, as the title of this exhibition suggests. Despite its affinity with Chagall’s magical realism and his poetics of the image, Katia Varvaki’s art is original, unaffected, refreshing, true poetry rendered with the brush.
The artist’s use of color as a dominant morphoplastic value—vivid, rich, and evocative—reminds us that painting is still very much alive. The time when various Cassandras prophesied the end of painting is behind us. Artists such as Katia Varvaki are proof that inspiration and the masterly use of color can define and revitalize art in an era of globalization, too. Indeed, in a time of crisis, when true art can become a refuge for the soul, Katia’s work sends us on a liberating journey beyond the misery and nightmare of the present, far, far away to a world of dreams and the lost paradise of our childhood.
Dora F. Markatou
Art Historian, Associate Professor
University of Ioannina
KATIA VARVAKI’S Divinely Wrought PLACES
In our day and age, when the notion of Art is being adapted and interpreted in numerous and insightful ways, at a time when our field of vision is flooded by the countless possibilities offered by digital media, Katia Varvaki, who completed her studies in painting at the School of Fine Arts, creates her own world of dream-like images in vibrant colors.
In the paintings and the two mixed-media constructions of this exhibition in three parts—gardens, dreams and the unconscious—one discerns recurrent references to an importunate yet existent reality: solitary girls together with strange birds immobilized on the tree of time; garden ponds where children are enjoying a game; friends out for a walk; families standing to gaze at ducks; red balloons, witness to a time of life now irrevocably lost; hovering stairs that lead nowhere… Instrument-symbols of the imagination, keys, the clock-tyrants of our daily time, beds that point to manic love, conjugal fidelity, ineluctable death.
One could speak here of abstract surrealist or expressionist intentions, but doing so would certainly circumscribe Varvaki’s arduous work within a closed and preset theoretical schema. In her paintings, the flow of narrative time seems to function unexpectedly so that the innocent can exist and satisfy their desire for love, companionship and family, far from anything that would distort their lives—“unguarded night was seized by memories / Mauve Red Yellow (Odysseas Elyis, “Seven Nocturnal Heptastichs”, Orientations, 1940, tr. Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris). A clear gaze, not perhaps unrelated to Varvaki’s tenure as a teacher, comes to look afresh at both familiar objects and human, animal and physical forms; all are examined through the spectrum of new relations that until now we had not suspected were there.
It is a process of painting that is impeccably executed in terms of line and color. Varvaki brings together the divinely wrought idyllic places of a utopia, in which one discerns an insistence on looking, the heat of absolute freedom in expression, and a most fitting fulfillment of the very essence of the praxis of visual art.
Assistant Professor of Art History
University of Athens