Athens

Christiana Soulou

Galerie 3

Christiana Soulou has an extraordinary gift for drawing, her chosen vehicle of expression, and she reminds us of the inherent power of the line. Her unrestrained reverence for the medium is imparted to the viewer—and yet her lines are broken. They are outlines with gaps that are as important as the line itself; gaps that complete the drawings and render them exquisitely elusive. Handling her line with unmistakable care and delicacy lest in its wispy fragility it slip away and vanish, she demonstrates her unconditional exaltation of it. The very tenuousness of her line conveys her passion for drawing.

The subjects that populate Soulou’s works float on the surface of the paper and yet, it would appear, they could very well exist without it. Theirs is a world of non-space in which gravity is absent: The figures, whether in a state of flux or of levitation, gently waft about in a world of their own, as for instance in She is sleeping, 2005, in which a porcelainlike nymph of a girl lies softly on a bed apparently suspended in space. The flowers and cherries sparsely scattered around her pillow seem to allude to yet another space—the private space of her dreams, serene and still. In other works, the figures are placed off-center, as in At the house of the mournful man . . . , 2005, or in a diagonal arrangement that imbues them with a whimsical directional impetus. She draws on impassioned personal experiences succinctly coupled with poetic titles that transport one to fantastical worlds of the imagination and recall a utopian world of myths. Through the perfection of craft and her entrancing figurative vernacular, Soulou induces a curious encounter with the imaginary.

Soulou’s oeuvre is tied to issues related to the process of seeing. And questions of pleasure and pain are exposed. These drawings compel an attentive gaze, and they don’t disappoint it. The artist invokes the pleasure of making the perfect creation and that of beholding it. When she titles a work Only I know how very much I loved you, 2005, she touches on the pain of loss and impermanence in everyone’s life. Here there seem to be two figures suspended in space. They are both faceless but in no way do they appear sinister. The lover, whose arms and hands alone have been depicted—his body seems to have dissolved into the mist of pictorial space—embraces his beloved’s waist with poignant tenderness underlining intense feelings of adoration and love. The girl’s right arm falls gently to her side. Her short skirt softly billows around her bent, relaxed legs. Her hand releases a shower of flowers, a sign of the joy and pleasure experienced as she abandons herself, without reservation, to love and her lover.

The contemplative Soulou is unafraid to show her inner self—her fears and joys, her strengths and weaknesses. She frankly engages a visual vocabulary that is guileless and lucid and replete with sentiment. Soulou’s work is intimate to the point that, however trite the notion, the subjective mirrors the objective, and the particular the general. Soulou’s self-realization through drawing could be interpreted, in existentialist terms, as a rejoinder to the ever-increasing atomization of our society.

Catherine Cafopoulos