Astrolavos Gallery, May 2009
Architecturally designing Space notes on Stella Meletopoulou’s painting
The first exhibited group of works by newly-appearing Stella Meletopoulou mainly concerns spare yet exceedingly clearly defined drawings of landscapes and a handful of human-centric works with multiple viewpoints.
This is a series of topics, which she commenced to work on during her studies, and where the initial finding was space itself: transforming through progress into a field that was ever more abstract. Then, subverting this process of “erasure” in her own studio, Meletopoulou re-examines her personal memories of space and its re-construction, from the standpoint of a pure and wide-angled gaze. Vertical walls and open windows, with escaping perspectives, immovable blue pools and rectangular garden beds, stable outlines, right angles and austere lines with dynamic equilibria, flat and spare surfaces, pale coloured, with acrylic tonal spectra that do not lack optimism, interrupted by unexpected condensed insets of bright colours (turquoise waves, red flowers, orange fruit, multi-coloured butterflies), converse with organic motifs (incessant doodling that assaults already decided surfaces, characterising in their sum certain of the paintings). Additional formulated yet recognisable notes on the image (fragments of a figure or a seat), organise usually midsize painted fields, which, according to the painter herself, arise “in conjunction with her own size”, and where the natural landscape is willfully conflated with pure architectural form.
To the question whether her work is mostly defined by the clear influence of modernist painting or by the very presence of a faint metaphysical aura that runs through it, Meletopoulou responds by proposing a third element: “beyond anything else, I aspire not to lose my reference to reality, because I consider reality to be extremely important, just as I do my own freedom of disposition, which constitutes one of the reasons why I paint. I feel that at the end of the image, the free rendition of reality characterises my work more than anything else, it constitutes a personal element in my painting. In this manner, at the back of my mind, beyond measurable axes, there is always a landscape, a sky, a sea, a tree…”: an unrecognisable as home almost landscape of my ancestral Laconia, of seaside Gytheio and the green plains of tame Tuscany, which is transubstantiated into an opaque projected essence of horizontal and vertical coordinates. A sky, which is often transformed into a smooth blue structural element; a sea that is transfused into the impermeable boundaries of a pool; a tree that equals a flexible curve. A lambent midday landscape of the mind, which turns from its own shadow and geometry, and refers back to whatever the viewer desires in each instance. A landscape, finally, from whence people are not absent, even though they are not apparently present, as the element of their indirect presence is transcribed with a multiplicity of ways onto the canvas: “I am interested in people as elements, even though I haven’t found them definitively”, the painter notes. “I am very pre-occupied by them, because I seek to make them more familiar both to me and to others”.
However, beyond any attempt to link, one should pause to consider that very attraction which the spare cleanness of organic form in Meletopoulou’s oeuvre, where formulation by no means detracts from the poetry of design, the articulation of a transparent subjective dimension of reality, which is run through by the aesthetic of a virtual architectural array. And it isn’t chance that these easy-to-read figurative fields by the artist find once more – through form, through colour and through manner – something of the austere style of modernist architecture from the sixties and seventies: having grown up and continuing to live in a space that is ruled by the spare aesthetics of an architect (her father Elias Meletopoulos) and having herself earlier worked in the graphic arts, Meletopoulou re-examines and re-composes the eclectic aesthetic elements she selects, in her own manner, creating images as organic neologisms. The result is her vindication…