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Thoughts on projects and the work of Maria Polyzoidou

15/11/2014 | By |

Maria Polyzoidou was born and raised in Belgium. She moved to Greece in 1997 and studied art in A.S.F.A. She is part of a new generation of Greek artists working on the development and renewal of art, initiating a dialogue concerning current problematics that cover the whole range of the European culture.

Maria Polyzoidou is a painter. In her writings she mentions: “What counts more than the object on display and is therefore actually painted, is the process of depicting the image through the absence of a profound gesture, being true and precise to its form and content (2007)” or “I am working on the precision of form; where painting, as an action, equals to a depiction which is carried out meticulously on a smooth surface (2008). In her last notes (with regard to her second solo show we read: “The paintings are a unity consisting of eight similar parts of relatively small dimensions (30x40cm). They depict both indoor as well as outdoor spaces where the subjects appearance is constantly put to test through their presence or absence. However, in any case, the real subject is the viewer’s perspective!” (2012).

The images she paints have different origins. They are sometimes inspired by pictures from her close environment, she often digs them up on the Internet, while other times she constructs three-dimensional models which she observes before painting. In each case, the original material that works as her starting point is transliterated through technical means so that its image can then be reproduced. Sketches upon sketches, photocopies, scanned photographs, print-outs as well as methodic studies on points and dimensions of a composition are expressed with pedantic enumeration.

On the occasion of the “Reculture 2” exhibition, I suggested Maria presented a part of her 2008-2009 work. It concerns an object of her own making, two sketches of the object and two oil paintings.
Thus we are allowed to witness not only the finished, remarkable paintings, but also the studies that have preceded the final work. It is the first time the artist exhibits elements of her craftwork and given my esteem and admiration for her work I believe that coming across her complex and visionary creations, constitutes a great experience, abundant of meanings and values.

Object-Construction 6 x7 x 12cm
A metal bar encircling the three sides of a trapezoid. On the smallest up-side of the trapezoid there is a metal screw. The two larger sides end in two green shoes-feet made of plasticine. The shoes have been decorated with lace. The object is exhibited in a horizontal position and the screw-head rests on a folded piece of cloth. The object’s proportions refer to half a human body – though for the painter it constitutes a whole body. The object is enclosed in a transparent box (ready-made) with a lid. The box is then put on a grey piece of foam board resting on styrofoam.
The object’s horizontal position, the folded piece of cloth, the metal bar contradicting with the handmade shoes and their decoration as well as the closed transparent box with a range of different kinds of material, refer to burial rites drawn from different cultures and religions.
Our object of interest is the transparent sarcophagus resting on soft material. Even though it can be examined from several different points and distances, it is a construction that demands for frontal viewing and transcribes in horizontal as well as vertical axis, urging, or rather demanding to find a place of existence in space indifferent to the profound and three dimensional one.

Two drawings
A small paper (ready-made, approximately 13x15cm), with vertical and horizontal etchings shaping a parallelogram. On it, a sketch drawn with a line shapes the outline of the shoes as well as the additional details as viewed on eye level, bringing the lower part of the shoes in the foreground.
On the borderlines there are numerical indications marking the distance and the dimensions. The rigid intellectual system that demands for a sketch as such, in this case seems to be undermined by the elliptic view that observes it.
In the second drawing (in A4 paper size) a part of the object is once again depicted (shoes, laces and a part of the metal bar) as viewed from lateral-frontal position on eye level. Due to lack of ink in the printer, there are parallel lines, similarly thick though clearly different as the ink fades out. In both
drawings, negotiating the object leads the artist to gain insight in the very basic issue of space and its meaning.

Oil on canvas (129 x 175cm)
This project follows a pencil on paper study, only in different dimensions and using altered materials. The shoe soles are presented in an elliptical way and take up both the left and right part of the painting. In the lower part of the project we see part of the metal screw as well as a small part of the metal bar.
The palette can be divided in dark greens reaching black and lighter greys, products of a three-color blending. What the viewer is directed to look at is a negotiation of space with blank and filled spots, concrete and abstract characteristics together with few flashes. The transitions from closed to open shapes, the coordination of the composition with reference to contemporary landscape painting, the persistent lack of any indication of depth are only few of the project’s characteristics. A work of art that seems to be repulsed by the viewer’s look, rather introverted despite its grandeur and particularly significant in order to understand Maria’s Polyzoidou work.
The burial references that were mentioned above, are now given a more personal, even private dimension. Her work refers to the lament that follows every loss. Maybe the most appropriate way to communicate with this work of art is by evoking the way we look at the world when with eyes full of tears.

Oil on canvas (17 x 40cm)
The object is depicted in a sideways almost frontal aspect. The shoes seize to carry the distinguishing green color and follow the painting’s husky grey palette instead. Through an exceptionally dense and to the point way of writing, the artist chooses to depict the lace, the metal bar and the screw-head carrying both its materialistic quality as well as its emptiness.
The object almost touches the margins of the canvas and is placed in an utterly defined space though lacking any kind of depth.
This work rejects any connection to the ground or wall and suggests, with such disarming simplicity, a horizon.
The first (maybe the only) rule of painting suggests the fundamental relation between the background and the figure. However, in this relatively small, long work of art the question raised refers to the dialogue between the object and the space which leads to another question concerning space and its boundaries. A potential space it occupies, maybe contains, while its boundaries constitute logical arguments of any utopia.

Maria Polyzoidou paints with endless patience and attention to detail, a painting that does not leave any doubt that what we see is actually what we ignore. In her works what we see is what we are all familiar with.
We all acknowledge the dialectic nature of historical time. We are all aware of the fact that memory does not allow choices, only repulsions and gaps. We all know that others are the same as we all are, alone. We all know that ‘before’ and ‘after’ do not necessarily occur in that order.
Maria Polyzoidou travels the distance from the subject to the world and vice versa. She listens to people saying that they do not know, or that they do but do not remember, or even that they remember, but is that enough? Through her painting she gives space to everyone.


Ilias Papailiakis