Efi Michalarou on the solo exhibition «End of Thread, end of meaning»

Efi Michalarou

Unraveling the Thread of Narrative

Athens 21/1/15

Maria Stamati belongs to those artists who, while having as a reference point and starting point an expressive medium, in her case, pure expressionist painting, with clarified limits of abstraction, an element that characterizes all her work, she is not afraid to experiment and expand her boundaries… On the contrary, this artistic journey seems almost a challenging process to her, which is why she dares with the same strength and skill to use for the needs of her work a variety of expressive means, as it were: video, installations and not only… When she is preoccupied with an idea, she tries to study it and express it, until she exhausts it, with the best imprint, with the aim of presenting the themes, concerns and questions that concern her. The medium of expression, the methodology and the material, is the intermediary, for the fullest recording and formulation of her ideas and inquiries. While experimentation and research express the artist’s need, but also her anxiety, to express what concerns her, preoccupies her and disturbs her, that is why each time, she seeks, discovers, finds and invents or creates the way to convey her messages, to unravel the thread of the narrative…

Just like in her new work, which surprises us with her use of thread and the way she stitches stories on canvas, but also her use of colour. While Maria Stamati’s previous works were dominated by white and black, with small but essential colour interventions of red or blue, here a panoply of colours appears, with the white tetra not only a dominant element, but a strict framework of positioning and delimitation. White and black are two solid concepts for her, they are two non-colours, containing us and containing almost everything, they are completion, completeness. “The intercourse with colour emerged, as a need to converse, with areas no less cerebral, but more experiential and small, like moments. Colour has edges and horizons, moving but visible. This makes it intimate, emotional, pulsating and alive. It melts everyday life and warms it with many adjectives”.

While the white box – the empty and the complete – as a thought and process of reproduction of ideas, first in small sizes and then in larger ones, until they become unruffled and burst into space, changing dimensions… involves an inner journey, projected in front of the viewer’s gaze and unfolding gradually, little by little, like a cinematic frame, since it initially uses sharp objects, such as the needle that pierces the skin-the surface of the canvas, not to wound or stigmatize it, but to transmute it, through a process of redemption and liberation, from which he removes, slowly and methodically, almost obsessively, with absolute concentration and commitment, pain, sorrow, fatigue, existential anguish. Through the embroidery, which is the pure imprint of time, on the white canvas, stitch by stitch, she leaves space for the viewer to enter the gaps created and take breaths, while through the dotted line of the thread-thread, pauses are created, and thus as a semicolon, becomes visible, the journey, the path that is illustrated, the moment and its awareness emerges, where emotions, thoughts and reflections are transformed into bright works, aided by the colourful and shiny yarns, with a contemporary visual vocabulary, from which intrinsic affinities emerge.

Through Stamati’s new series of works, we can see the contemporary artist’s need to return to familiar places. Not in a nostalgic way, with tendencies of nostalgia for the past, but tracing new methodologies, concerns and anxieties. This is not a new and uncommon element in contemporary art, since we find it in several artists, singling out two of the most characteristic examples: Janine Antoni and Ghada Amer, two important artists of the international art scene, who nevertheless maintain, undiminished, a piece of local culture, which is perfectly integrated and harmonized with the multiculturalism that defines and determines the global community. Janine Antoni, who comes from the Bahamas, weaves her dreams on the loom, on a white blanket with which she covers herself, after recording them the night before through a computer, while Ghada Amer tells stories embroidered on canvas, about female identity and sexuality, the place and role of women in Egypt, but whose style of work comes from a mechanistic and automated process, in contrast to Stamati, who uses elements from the history, culture and tradition of embroidery of different regions, but without her iconography being identified with them, embroidering on canvas with the classical traditional method, and while there is affinity and influence, the visual result is disassociated from the past, articulating a contemporary visual discourse.

If our memories, we are us, as the artist believes, carry them, represent us and define us, the visual dialogue that develops between the elements of tradition and contemporary visual language is an essential way of approaching our personal journey through time. It is the axis – the thread that connects us with the past, history and culture, but at the same time, it is also our extension into the future, since it identifies and arranges our present, since Maria Stamati, through the complexity and variety of expressive media, clearly emphasizes that she is attracted to the new – the new, and is mainly interested in the evolutionary course of things. This is, after all, her goal: to progress and evolve through art…

Efi Michalarou
Journalist, Art Critic & Exhibition Curator
Director of the Online Art Magazine www.dreamideamachine.com

Efi Michalarou on the solo exhibition «End of Thread, end of meaning»nikos