Two contemporary visual artists, Elena Papadimitriou and Lamprini Boviatsou, have created anthropocentric images using their particular brushstroke in order to illustrate -somewhere between reality and imagination- the abyss that is the female psyche and to describe it through their own labyrinths of thought, their anxieties, their self –sarcasm, their experiences, secrets and frustrations. In the works by Elena Papadimitriou the female ﬁgure displayed on an almost blank background – mirror initiates a silent harmonious dialogue – a ﬁctional discourse – between that which is stated and that which is leﬅ unsaid. The artist deliberately pairs up esthetically the main ﬁgure with its surroundings, two worlds totally separate yet not inconsistent with one another. The animate is the signiﬁer and the inanimate is complementary, circumstantial, “à propos”. The extraneous designs on the reﬂective surface are not involved in the actual image, but essentially help to either dissipate or highlight the main theme. The indeterminable timeframe, the ﬁctional space and absence of emotion impart a pervasive mystical quality to the artist’s compositions and trigger a variety of interpretational approaches. On the painting surfaces of Papadimitriou -cylindrical or ﬂat – every element is selected deliberately in order to lure the viewer’s attention towards the human riddle that is the woman, who appears totally locked in herself. It’s impossible to discern any internal anxiety even from the look in her eyes, instead it too seems to be totally absorbed by the role assigned to it, to charm. The identity of the women depicted is determined only through their clothing and not by their individual characteristics or the artiﬁcial decorative elements with the inscribed dots and simple geometric patterns. The women in E. Papadimitriou’s works, although realistically rendered, are converted into ﬁctional creatures in the absolute solitude of the imaginary space. Trapped within their own ﬁctitious world, they bring with them emotions of pain and pleasure, anxieties, desires and memories, yet express none of these feelings outwardly; their only apparent wish is to attract the observer and captivate him with the aesthetic excellence of the entire work, by ﬂaunting the beauty of their precious outﬁts, the luxurious fabrics, the sheer lace, the raw silk, the embroidery. The garments that look so perfect, almost as if made by divine intervention, have an averting quality, in that they prevent the viewer from reaching deep in the souls of the women depicted and force him to restrict himself to the admiration of the aesthetic perfection of their exterior. Nevertheless, the artist’s emblematic ﬁgures secretly long to be decoded and permit the observer to visually stand next to them “face-to-face”, via his mirrored image on the reﬂective surface of the background. These women “mirror” their inner conﬂict as they ﬂuctuate between the ideas of “displaying – concealing – pretending” and, rather than initiating a dialogue, seem to crave our admiration by tempting us with their irresistible charm. At the same time, as the female ﬁgures in the mirror seem to weigh themselves against each individual intruder from the external environment (viewers, objects), Papadimitriou’s works seem to resonate their iconographical narratives as well, with the aid of the sound eﬀects added to them by Antonis P.: when the viewer stands in front of them he is not only confronted by a world of emotions trapped behind the mirror, but he can also listen to their sound.
In the works by Lambrini Boviatsou the human ﬁgure appears heavily distorted, varying on the angle and viewpoint the artist has chosen in order to create her desired visual impression. This rather bizarre pictorial approach is enhanced by the reﬂections in the warped reﬂective surface she uses as background, thus making her personal handwriting extremely imposing. The ﬁgures are prisoners of their own reﬂections and appear sometimes fragmented and others multifaceted, twisted or elongated. In other words, Boviatsou in her works externalizes, in a very straightforward and almost aggressive way, deeply buried feelings of pain and agony, and, in her attempt to communicate them to the viewer, she creates a sense of discomfort, embarrassment, even bewilderment. Sometimes the image is in fact tightly conﬁned within the boundaries of her aesthetic perception, leaving no room for personal interpretational debates. In addition, the image of the viewer itself is reﬂected fragmented and contorted in the distorting mirrors of her works, creating tension in her visual compositions as his misshapen form inﬁltrates the project dynamically. The painting surface as a whole, with the anthropocentric representations and the incorporated elements of the environment, is marked by the artist’s decisive personal stamp on the concept of time. In other words, she takes us to a journey in non-time, or rather through time the way each one of us experiences it, for, instead of making particular chronological references, she follows a timeless course, attempting to unite the spirit with the ﬂesh in a virtual world and to liberate it from tormenting memories, earthly ﬁxations, and inane commitments. The artist’s female nudes, usually self-portraits, with vague outlines and indeterminable perspectives, seem intangible and misleading, without substance, ﬂoating in a non-existent universe between ﬁction and reality. Boviatsou initiates a ‘face-to face’ dialogue with the viewer and takes him to her own ﬁctitious unending world of ‘never’ and ‘nowhere’, leaving as sole stable reference points her partly recognizable naked form and his own distorted reﬂection. Her objective is further underlined by her insistence in using small and large surfaces of everyday objects and appliances for her visual creations, as if seeking to invade both our everyday reality, and the world of our imagination. Her artwork is an invitation to an unknown journey of introspection in search of the puriﬁcation of the soul and the unveiling of the truth. Unlike the silent visual creations of Papadimitriou, the works by L. Boviatsou seem to scream through her display of distorted ﬂesh. Both artists chose to depict an isolated female ﬁgure, while at the same time utilizing the impressions produced by the reﬂective surfaces they used to paint on, in order to create a bilateral relationship between the observer and the observed. Nonetheless, the expressive exuberance of the works by Papadimitriou is contradicted by the pictorial absences of Boviatsou and, while in the former’s creations color plays a crucial role, even when it’s scarce and of a limited range, in the works of the latter all else seems to fade but the multiple shades of ﬂesh. Despite the stylistic diversity of the two visual artists, the exhibition turns out to be an unprecedented interactive experience through their systematic use of similar means of expression and the active participation of the observer, who is integrated and interacts with their works within the visual limits set by the creators themselves. Finally, beyond the feeling of euphoria produced by the high aesthetics of the works by Elena Papadimitriou and the sense of awe, sometimes even repulsion caused by the nudes of Lambrini Boviatsou, the viewer becomes a mediator and receptor of empathy, a neophyte in the undiscovered, hidden feminine universe.
Louisa Karapidaki, Art Historian