Two X

Installation 2009
medusa gallery

The man who saw by Elias Maglinis* 

Men are foolish enough to claim, especially during their military service, that “all women are whores, except for their mother”– when the truth is that their mother is the greatest whore of all. All the other women, who are called upon to play the role of lover, partner or wife, are innocent babies compared to a mother and her crushing guilt. Yet what men want of these other women, whether for one night or for a lifetime, is to personify the guilt instilled in them by their mother; it is to these women that they want to make love so violently that they’ll scream just like their mother screamed when she was giving birth to them. Men want this scream of labouring to survive at all costs. Women probably don’t need this guilt, perhaps because they can pay back their debt by giving birth themselves. Perhaps; Kostis cannot answer this with any certainty. He is a man, and believes he only has answers for men. For the men who never cease to believe –even if they won’t admit this, not even to themselves– that they are born again through mating with a girl they loved or simply fancied. And women know this all too well – Kostis is sure of that. This is women’s great weapon, and men’s only fulfilment. 

The random thoughts of Kostis, the young hero of an unpublished short-story in progress.
The story goes like this: Kostis works in his father’s a business, an underground multi-storey car park with regular customers among whom there are women who work in the area. Some of these women leave their whole set of keys in the car every morning – not just their car keys but also those to their house. Kostis makes copies of the keys, checks how long they stay at work and breaks into the homes of those women who live alone. 
He knows when to go and when to leave, without ever leaving any trace behind. He lies in their bed; washes in their bathroom; cleans his teeth with their toothbrush; comes in their unused sanitary napkins; waters their plants and feeds their pets; leafs through personal diaries, reads their secrets and copies excerpts into his own notebook; digs out family albums; opens drawers and steals their underwear; discovers sexual aids, suicide letters that came to nothing; saucy, desperate or angry letters from men and fathers, and even more agonising, creased and half-torn letters to and from mothers; and, of course, he opens their wardrobes, takes pictures of the hanging dresses, smells their body in their shirts and blouses. Back to his house he adds to the ‘files’ of his subjects. Now, after years of tormenting insomnia, he enjoys a deep, serene, vitamin-rich sleep. Without dreams. 
Don’t ask me what happens next – I don’t know it myself, even though I am the author of the story. For the moment, I content myself with the attraction of the indiscreet, even violent gaze into the private world of women. Now, the irony is that I felt a little like Kostis as I watched Marigo drawing, devising, reconstructing similar female worlds the way they can be revealed, in a diffractive or even a distorted way, by the inside of their wardrobes. 
As I saw in her studio only some of these elegant little works which make up baby-universes, and listened to fragments of women’s thoughts, confessions, memories, dreams and nightmares that Marigo collected like a writer –although she is an artist of images at all other times– I thought that she had beaten Kostis to it and done his ‘dirty work’ before him. This is not good news for Kostis and his insomnia – but it is good for Marigo. 
I have been following the work of Marigo for years, her paintings and above all her installations. The ‘little dresses’, the shadows of little girls running somewhere in time and getting lost as they play, crying and haunting our memories. I have followed also her input into the very interesting collective (‘female’) work of “Indoors”. I am thinking that it is as if all that prepared me for this new project, which contains a powerful element of surprise. And the surprise here comes mainly from the fact that in this series of so common yet also  autonomous, unique installations Marigo turns the wholly familiar into something unfamiliar.
Indeed, what could be more familiar, more commonplace than a wardrobe? And yet what happens here is a crucial, effective reversal: we slide into the realm of the alien, and what we see is no longer the photograph but the negative; we cross to the other side of the mirror into a twilight zone. The English saying about ‘skeletons in the closet’ is not without significance. Here we have a similar thing – but don’t you worry too much, because the fantasies of Marigo are not inhabited solely by sinister skeletons. First of all, there is some discreet, subtle humour – this “child of melancholy”, as Zacharias Papantoniou once described humour. Then there is also a certain aura of nostalgia, but never of facile reminiscing. Above all, however, I think we are talking about deliberately ambiguous situations that arise from a charged subconscious: the subconscious of the artist herself, and that of the voices we can hear as we peer inside those wardrobes. Only I don’t know what came first: there are times when the scattered, fragmentary narratives produce an image, while elsewhere the image comes first to comment, to complement speech. Then again, it may not matter too much. This may well be one of the most interesting aspects of this exhibition.
Elias Maglinis was born in 1970 in Kinshasa of the Democratic  Republic  of the Congo. He works as an art editor in Kathimerini newspaper. He has published short-stories in various journals and periodicals. His first book “Soma me soma” was published in 2005 and his second book the novella “The interrogation” was published in 2008.

The other side of reality

By Maria Maragkou 

The visitor encounters 17 dollhouse wardrobes miniatures of a real dark wardrobe with a mirror on the outside and a door on hinges that closes and leaves its user alone with his most intimate or alien “being”, that is himself.

The half-lit interior holds different contents. Marigo Kassi creates an exhibition with 17 different paintings-constructions in identical minute wardrobes, a piece of handcraft by means of a secret.
In a nutshell, she identifies her work with an equivalent story together with visual action dealing with the topics of trust, confession and sharing.
Why a wardrobe?
The wardrobe is the most intimate object. We approach it naked and through its content we create our daily image choosing the façade we wish, or we just cover our needs of dressing up.
The wardrobe is also a hiding place. Let us not forget our childhood years with the hidden cookies in grandma’s wardrobe, but also the secret world we would build in it. A nest, a surprise, the preparation for action. Finally the wardrobe can be a place of guilt for adults, a symbolic confession room resulting to relief or even penance. 
Marigo Kassi reaches the idea of processing confession after having covered a long distance in painting and constructing, having worked both with the big painting frame as well as the minute hand-made paper dress. As I see it what has led and added special importance to her current work must have been her collaboration with Valy Nomidou, Spyridoula Politi and Mary Hristea, in “Indoors” where they all worked together for the creation of a work in a flat, sharing confessions, actions and even their lives. 
Each confessing woman lights up that very moment an unknown until then part of her. The artist adopts the method of the former artists, magicians – doctors, as she takes up responsibility and binds herself to palliate it through a way of revelation, a way that remains secret for the rest of the world. 
The visitor can see images hidden behind the door of the wardrobe, which holds all the secrets. The interior offers a living-room, a dining-room, gardens, tombs, suitcases, faces, staircases, lights, even talks during a family gathering. 
It’s a kind of miniature familiar to Kassi from her past, all organized with Japanese and other hand-made paper, threads, wire, silk ribbons, oil-paintings, clay, watercolors, Perspex, photographs and even Swarovski crystals, sound and light.
A complete environment of a closed room, where narration has gone by with its traces still remaining, comprising the raw material for any further story the visitor is ready to invent. 
The whole exhibition has the structure of a narration without it revealing its secret, allowing thus to each one of us to proceed with one’s own revelation or the creation of a second secret. 
The pictorial presence is reinforced by the idea, which remains tender, sensitive and lambent even if its semantics is that of death. 
Art can and has the right to interfere in life and change it to the better, activating a process of catharsis. 
In such a good time for her Marigo Kassi becomes an auricular witness without denouncing, judging or advising. She draws ideas from this idiomorphic reality, where lives participate, in a factuality that can afford only a few viewers and can heal wounds in a correlation between confessor and confessant. Preparing these Lilliputian rooms, she managed to introduce her course of life in art recruiting images she once had used and making references to the history of art since the surrealism of a secret is expressed through flying chairs in a constructivistic environment. Keeping the secrets confessed to her, she makes a breakthrough in her work insisting on keeping only the most essential parts.
PS.: What appears to be very interesting is the text accompanying her catalogue. It’s an extract from an unpublished story of Helias Magklinis which is still in progress. It’s the story of a car-park attendant who makes copies of all the keys from the key rings working women give him, and then goes into their houses while they are away. He knows when to go and when to make off. Leaving no traces he lies in their beds, opens their wardrobes, uses their bathrooms, waters their plants, feeds their animals, reads their letters and diaries and looks into their photo albums. When he goes back to his place, he enriches the file of each woman and then goes to sleep calmly. 
In my opinion the disordered extract constitutes organic part of Marigo Kassi’s exhibition.*

Cutting–Sewing (Κοπτική ραπτική)

Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation, Nafplion
Eγκατάσταση 2005
Πελοποννησιακό λαογραφικό ίδρυμα

Surfacing – Realities (Αναδύσεις- Πραγματικότητες)

medusa gallery
εγκατάσταση 2005

Dr. Lina Tsikouta-Deimezis
Art Historian
Curator at the National Gallery

[1] Kiki Dimoula, “Associated Spring Moods”, from the collection “One Moment Together”, Ikaros Editions, Athens 1998.

Memory in the course of existence and the awareness of time

      The artists I admire and enjoy do not make great leaps, creating unbridgeable gaps in the course of their artistic creation. Their obsessions, which confine them to the profound investigation of their own anxieties, are arduous but creative and give them the possibility of refining and frequently exhausting their subject, out to the limits of their thought.

      Marigo Kassi goes out into space and creates a fascinating installation. Despite the fact that our encounter up to now has been with her painting, I once more feel the need to leaf through the catalogue from her solo exhibition three years ago and mention the title of my text taken from a verse by Kiki Dimoula ”Tonight temporarily cast all responsibility on the deceitful kiss sent, you by nostalgia.” [1] It is also relevant to the artist’s new investigation.
      Twice before Kassi has undertaken to create works in space, once in Thessaloniki at the Zina Athanasiadou Gallery, making small wire sculptures, and last year at Gallery 24 in the exhibition, “Playing with Time”, constructing a small wardrobe with little dresses and nostalgic music, along with her childhood pictures, thus playing a game with time.
      Now she has entered space dynamically. Working with apparent effortlessness, she makes use of the same subject matter, the same materials, and the same charged nostalgia and memory. The female creation, that whispers something intimate to other women. Her old motifs, the little dresses -- painted or real -- the shadows of the girls done with spray paint, the hand-made pieces of paper, the vaporous and simple, all refer to a “recollection of conditions” by means of objects. The fragmentary nature of the details of her painting compositions, the framing in matter and texture, have now entered space. Everything that she knows and so arduously depicts spurs her on “to do a great deal in space, for many women.”
      From the gallery’s ceiling depend numerous transparent rods in a variety of arrangements, from which hang paper dresses on small hangers. These little dresses are all different, with their own motifs, their own lacework, their bows and their special cutting, created from handmade paper, brought from England and America. Everything is handmade, everything unique, just like the female existences they represent. These white, black, grey, pink, and sea-blue creations presented together with the incorporation of two or three of her childhood photographs are simply overpowering.
      Approximately two hundred and fifty unique little dresses hang down, cleaned, purified, from the ceiling of that very special dry cleaner’s of memory, a direct reference to the uniqueness of female personalities. The size of the dresses is a reference to the women themselves, while the “emergence” of the image ends in a nostalgic “reality”, where memory in the course of existence and the awareness of time plays the leading role.

You look wonderful (Δείχνεις υπέροχη)

Painting 2002
gallery 3

Lina Tsikouta
Art Historian – Curator at the National Gallery

Tonight, for the time being put the entire blame on the perfidious kiss delivered by Nostalgia¹

''Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. I try to act in that gap between the two. A pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil and fabric. A canvas is never empty.''

Between the lines by Kiki Dimoula and the quote from Robert Rauschenberg lies the thread connecting the new works by Marigo Kassi. Another title could have been: “Materiality, Feeling, Nostalgia, Remembrance”. The works the painter is presenting belong to three entities, which are all reciprocally complementary, adding new elements to one another. They all work with more or less the same subject matter and their execution is also similar.
Through her systematic involvement with nature in her previous exhibitions with the rendering of interior spaces, in combination with the human figure we observe a perpetual movement from the abstract to the non-figurative and from the informel to the figurative. A common concern of hers in all these is the texture, the feeling and the materiality of the painting, taken together with the materials she incorporates. Her visual angle consists of the fragmentary, the close-at-hand, and the familiar.
In her new work the subject matter bears the “aroma” of the female “essence”, as it were. We have become accustomed to saving that a woman’s creativity is no different than a man’s. In this case, however, these are the works that speak of the woman, and are most likely directed to women. They are like whispers, light female conversation, confessional, immediate, sincere and soothing. The organization of the compositions is done by layered system of horizontal and vertical axes, which assist the narrative ness, and the presentation of the veiled allusions.
The little skirt and the pumps are painted with dry pastels and pencil on graph paper, while the shadows of the little girls are executed in spray. The metal grater, the large wooden spoon or the little porcelain heads are added to the work’s iconographic repertoire. In the second entity, using wallpaper or handmade as a base, the previous iconographic motifs are arranged in various combinations. Finally, a third entity presents, in a variety of stances, the calves of young women wearing pumps and an endless combination of feet in shoes arranged on various hierarchic levels of the layers of the compositions. The colors employed in these works are at times quite explosive while other times the tints are soft and faint, like a recollection of the objects or conditions that they are depicting.
The works bear within themselves something of the design immediacy of the motifs and the repetitions of everyday objects found in Pop Art. The stamped, printed figures of the little girls, despite their disarming innocence, bring to mind the fingerprints from “Anthropometrics” by Yves Klein, or the “child like figures” by Jean Dubuffet. The narrative layering oven makes references to the mobility of repeated cinematic or televised “snapshots”. The fragmentary nature of the details of the images and their “freezing” is at times reminiscent of the tricks used in advertising spots. In the case of Marigo Kassi, however, this is an eloquent manner of speaking about beauty, but which has no relationship to the commercialized beauty and the way it deals with childhood, innocence, tenderness, the youth, adulthood and eroticism of women, through the fetishistic objects.
A beauty of framing, of material and texture, where the technique of the delicate pastels lends great sweetness to the image (child’s skirt) and the various accessories, (the various colored fabrics, and the gold, black and mauve tinted sequins), which all increase the … desire.
Things touched, aromas and images, which shoot forth from memory in discreet, nostalgia, muted journey through remembrance. But as the artist herself in 1994 on another occasion. “The interior condition and the exterior reference are mutually endured and in the end become identical”.

¹ Kiki Dimoula, “Complicities of a Spring Mood” from the collection “Of a Moment Together”, Ikaros, Athens 1998, Statement by R. Rauschenberg

Translated by Philip Ramp

Painting (ζωγραφική)

gallery 3

Nikos Xydakis

Red wild and black 

The first thing that drew me two years ago to Marigo Kassi’s art was the colour red. A red that was on fire, provocative, bright and passionate. A red that you don’t come across in nature. It was one of those reds that are used in folk art in order to depict a rose, deep red pomegranates, or the heart of a faithful virgin in religious lithographs.
It was a red so extreme and much-used that it flirted with hideousness; it was the charming ambiguous boundaries of passion and prostitution.
After that mesmerizing red, you would notice the slight allegorical nature of the work, suggestive, and atmospheric. Faint human figures, a child’s swing, blurred photographs, which looked like they came from family unions and trips… The red tell us of pretend roses, it gave body and brilliance – it was pleasurable prostitution. The faint black (the darkness) was for the people, as if she had accepted that the human condition is permeated with nostalgia and grief.
I believe that these elements also dominate the best moments of the new exhibition. Human figures are combined to create two archetypes: one child/woman, with an autobiographical allusion, and an active “thief”, something which the artist calls herself. A third image is a suitcase. The thief often takes the suitcase, the box that hides something inside. The girl looks deep into the painting. With her back to the viewer she is looking back, to lapsed time or to the timelessness of dream. A woman looks at the viewer, or to an imaginary mirror, like in Velasquez’art, like a dream’s idol.
I don’t know if the thief steals innocence and is heading towards a coming of age, if he is stealing dreams, if he is stealing the creator’s old paintings. Maybe it’s better to stop analyzing dreams at this point, in order to look in more depth at the painted surface; I believe that therein lies the depth, there lie the secrets.
I immediately pick out a relatively small work, which has condensed practically al of this cycle of events. There are three dark figures, ambiguous, flowing three levels of charcoal, moving towards the left. The background above is white, a screen; below, the ground is a mark – dust and ashes the stuff that human bodies are made of – coming out of itself. On the charcoal marks are random red stains, suggestions of sweet, passionate pomegranates. The painting’s base is gold, sequined brocade, the most tangible human element, the material (perishable yet consoling) in a world of specters.
The dark human specters, the fire-red pomegranates of passion, and shamelessly decorative hem, are the main three characteristics of this art.
Kassi tell us of suggestive dreams, memories and fears, she abandons herself to the intoxication of colour (above all to red, but also to fuchsia and orange, and sometimes goes the other way: to green), she also abandons herself to the paroxysm of decoration, of the “matiere” of substance.
She layers hand-made paper – one on top of the other, half covering traces and making signs more hazy, she glues on pieces of wallpaper and draws over them, she makes pastel marks here and there, she erases and alleviates and then attacks again.
This is a constantly unfinished art, just like dreams and memories: what’s strong is what is unfinished, ambiguous. An abstract expressionism, which balances between profundity and painterly matter.
On the one hand, the ineffable; on the other, the intoxication and joy and artifice of colour, of materials, of painting itself. In between, the painting itself. A sweet futility.