“Translucent Time” – 05/02/2015- 07/03/2015
On Thursday, February 5 at 8.00 in the evening Maria Demetriades opens the first solo exhibition of Elli Koutsoukelli at the Medusa Art Gallery.
Starting from a theme of historic building façades and interiors, Elli Koutsoukelli presents 30 works with ink on large paper. The ink in these works is used with the gravity of oil, in thick pastes that emphasise the traces of a gestural painting. The whiteness of the paper, the only background to these compositions, comes as an absolute light that mercilessly penetrates the ruins of temples and houses to dematerialise them, projecting onto their black surfaces the power of a suspended beauty. By revealing the hidden structures of ink, identified here with the worn frames of the edifices, these works pass from the abstract representation of external reality to the monumental rendering of an inner view of the world.
Elli Koutsoukelli was born in Athens in 1984. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Painting (2002-2008) from the Fine Arts School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she graduated with a first class degree and distinction. From 2009 till 2011 she continued her studies in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she completed a Master’s Degree of Fine Arts in Painting at the Edinburgh College of Art – University of Edinburgh. For her studies in Scotland she received the Alexander Onassis Scholarship. In 2010 she was awarded the Andrew Grant Prize for the production of outstanding artwork and the Barns Graham traveling scholarship to Italy. In 2011 she earned the John Kinross Scholarship for art production and research in Florence, Italy from the Royal Scottish Academy. She has also worked as an Artist in Residency at the John David Mooney Foundation in Chicago (2010). She has participated in group shows in Greece (State Museum of Contemporary Art, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens Concert Hall) and abroad (Chicago, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London). Some of her artworks belong to the permanent collections of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. In 2014 she presented her group of works “Metamorphosis of Light” in a solo exhibition curated by Chara Kalaitzidou, at the Falatados Primary School (Tinos Art Festival, Tinos island, Greece).
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11.00 – 14.00 & 18.30- 21.30 Saturday: 11:00 – 15:00
The Structures of the Invisible
In the works by Elli Koutsoukelli aspects of the external world are always a pretext for painting an inner impression of reality. The large inks on paper presented here may have stemmed from the charm exerted on her images by the churches of Italy and the castles of the Aegean. But their raison d’être is far removed from an abstract and certainly deeply personal painted depiction of historical architectural structures.
In the large cavernous landscapes that preceded these works, charcoal and Indian ink outline endless gestural paths, forming whirlpools and line galleries, traces of an incessant “automatic” writing – mental landscapes. If in those works a drawing in perpetual motion unfolds on the paper, it appears that the current inks imprint the complex solidity of frozen time, where the white of the paper echoes the silence of the snow.
In this instance Koutsoukelli creates absolute compositions, often bringing to mind the elemental intensity of a woodcut. She boldly attacks the paper, in order to create her buildings with rhythmically repetitive scaffolding of ink folds and lines, using broad and smaller brushes, spatulas, palette knives and all types of toothed tools. The glues she mixes produce different tonalities of black to the areas where the ink in solid pastes, resembles oil. If these works bear the burden of painterliness, this is not due to an arbitrary simulation of their material. The ruins stand naked against their unique background, the merciless white paper, which like light passes through the dark skeletons of cathedrals and houses, disembodying them by creating outdoor-indoor spaces. In her perforated buildings Koutsoukelli perceives the opportunity to project the strange power of a dilapidated, and therefore valuable, beauty, by identifying the content with the form of her images. Ink dominates these works as much as the void of their surfaces, in a continuous interplay between emptiness and fullness, between what is and what is not. Through the behaviour of her material, which Koutsoukelli conducts in symphonies of passages, drips, explosions, thinnings and thickenings, black zones are formed, which are eroded by transparencies, like louvers that appear to obscure the dark ink sun. Thus are created works that can be seen both from close up and from afar, because every detail of them is an autonomous work within the work, approaching abstraction in an organic manner.
Elli Koutsoukelli has painted buildings in the aesthetics of the sublime, reflecting the memory of the first time she saw them. The fragmentary views of the ruined vaults and apses seem to overflow from her papers with a monumentality that has nothing to do with their large size. In one of Koutsoukelli’s compositions the transparent hull of a gate stands in the middle of the paper wilderness and to the bottom right a blob of ink reminds us that this is where it all started from.
By locating the wounded remains of old buildings in the articulations of a polysemous ink, which ultimately claims the power of time, these works pass from the abstract representation of a specific reality to the timeless rendition of an inner viewing of the world. Through the structures of ink are revealed the structures of the invisible. And through the ruins of matter, fragments of images of the mind.