Skoufa Gallery – April 2016
What does the artist do? He draws connections. He ties the invisible threads between things. He dives into history, be it the history of mankind, the geological history of the Earth or the beginning and end of the manifest cosmos.
This is a series of two- and three-dimensional wall-mounted works, both medium and large in size, where the symbolic subjects and objects of the artist’s semantic and tactile memory are rescued from oblivion and incorporated, initially in the painted field and subsequently projected into the relief, proposing discrete new universes, which can be interpreted in many ways.
With this oeuvre Stella Meletopoulou proposes a semantic rhythmic sequence of unembellished “weavings” of conceptual landscapes and progresses of thoughts on monochromatic plains, where the placement of objects is at times defined by the design, maintaining an imperceptible memory of Matisse’s sequence of lambent curved figures and the succession of dark valleys in the oeuvre of Klee, while at other times are literally added in, delineated by wire, plastic or thread. The articulated sculptured corpus of the dense organic arrays invented by the artist and made using numerous heterogeneous objects, knitted together by coloured thread, iron wire or fishing line, at first glance are reminiscent of children’s meccano: the repetitive tangential geometric forms (triangle, square, circle or semi-circle); the inventive uses of cheap materials, including fragments of broken mirrors or wooden straws; and the polyphonic presence of symbols including the fish, the moon, the key, the flag or the eye/torch; and the living organic images, which in the end are created through this additional manual labour, hovering amongst the strict limits set by the painter, which pulsate between the concepts and the threads, which she herself stretches out and utilises at times as living human arteries and, at other times, like the sensitive strings of a musical instrument; or which are pinned, like priceless suggestive signifiers of a living soul on abstract monochromatic surfaces made of wood or canvas.
In this manner Meletopoulou invents a new, sonorous language with distinct sounds: with dense references to myths, history and anthropology, to Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic archetypes and Roman Jakobson’s scientific conclusions, whose object are the links between sound and concept, with an absolute minimum of material pillars, re-examines and rewrites, deconstructs and reconstructs the web of her personal world and its surroundings, maintaining a spare purity of line, material and colour as the basic component of an autonomous reality, where formalization by no means annuls the quality nor the transitive interpretive capacity of the design. (1)
The successive images and varied fashioned structures that bubble to the surface, taking part in this adventure of line and the low-toned sequence of chromatic fields, the boxed-up three-dimensional light or dark universes, which subsequently arise, as the artist’s small magical objects cohabiting within them chart new possibilities for interpretation; but the minimal hints in spare portraits, which are proposed in the midst of the group of works, like necessary pauses in the constant motion on the path to self-awareness, constitute, in fact, different solutions to the same problem, that the painter keeps posing tirelessly to the viewers, but also to herself: Each of us, notes Meletopoulou, who makes frequent reference to Claude Lévi-Strauss and his work Myth and Meaning, is “a kind of crossroads where things happen. … That is, my work gets thought in me, unbeknownst to me. … and the threads I utilize, literally and symbolically, move and are moved”.
We could potentially assume that the depth of field of the work is nothing less than life as a condition. The manner in which we shall experience it; the fragments we leave behind; the material and psychic crutches upon which lean; the encounters and losses that define us: they all hang from alternate potentialities on an infinitesimally small thread. “With precisely this awareness of the inability to overturn events and things, we are called upon henceforward to live” the artist concludes, explaining that it is in this precise inability that lies in all likelihood her need for order, both in the entirety of her work and in its individual points.
If Lévi-Strauss proved that myth does not exist without its various languages and its interpretative meaning, Saussure, also an innovator in his time, formulated a general system of human language, introducing for the first time the concept of organized “relations” and a “system” for “language”, as well as laying the foundations for an independent science that leads the way for other sciences and fields of human knowledge or endeavour, from the natural sciences to painting. According to Saussure, language is a system (which he called “la langue”), where “phonemes” exist and where the signifier and the signified constitute an arbitrary combination of two different psychological entities, an acoustic image and an idea (meaning), “it is relationships that create and define objects, not the other way around”.
Referencing Lévi-Strauss, Jakobson and Saussure and, mainly, proposing to the viewer her Invisible Threads as a systematic field of vision, for reflection, self-awareness and interpretation of the self and the world, Stella Meletopoulou proves without any surplus means, that just as with them, so too with the “language” she herself develops, there is distinction between matter (or substance) and form, with form having priority, as here too interpretation does not arise from the arrayed use of colours, materials and “shapes”, as well as their dynamic correlations.
And if all this appears finally as an adventure of the intellect, I would like in closing to note, that this adventure has as its starting point a generous deposit of matter and soul, in a poetic and initially garbled confessionary desire of colours and matter, which during the visual art act of the past few years, was transformed into a personal semiotic diary.
- Roman Jakobson, Six leçons sur le son et le sens, Préface de Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1976