Helene Pavlopoulou

Unsung Brides | 2009

Exhibition in Katsigras Museum in Larissa, Greece

curated by Syrago Tsiara


Syrago Tsiara

Dr Art Historian / Director of the Thessaloniki Centre for Contemporary Art

Helene Pavlopoulou’s recent work is characterised by a complete return to allegorical representation. The main thematic axis is woman, encased in specific societal roles. This was preceded by a long period that focused on structural, compositional and colour studies, which she developed in conjunction with the Archetypal Landscapes and the Ark, and a series of paintings which feature group portraits of Emigrants. Even in works where the human figure is clearly absent, the symbols the artist chooses, including the ark, flowers and horses, imply complex processes of the psyche, whose aim is to investigate the unconscious.

Helene Pavlopoulou is currently going through a fertile period where her own personal style is crystallizing. A solid structure; the dominance of a central motif, and a vertical or horizontal development of additional elements; the density of the palimpsest script; and her interest in highlighting the texture of her materials come together to formulate her own artistic language, while at the same time fresh practices are added that enrich this: a severity in organising space is reversed by conscious occultation of specific areas; the development of a theme is suddenly interrupted, or penetrates into the next zone; disparate elements are juxtaposed in a binary relationship of interaction (the figure of Maria Callas in conversation with an undefined mass of mechanical devices, while a mysterious Carmen disrupts the flow of a soccer match). Moreover, the element of writing, with snatches of text, enters Brides as a structural composition tool, with constant references to real or mythological female figures.

A tendency to gather reminders and cultural documents appears to 'haunt’ the body of the unsung brides. The figures remain attractive, enigmatic, but unrelentingly solitary, as if they are successfully playing their roles in a theatrical performance with no audience. Pavlopoulou consciously selects archetypical roles and representations of feminine identity, while in specific instances she over-stresses, almost to the point of kitsch, the influence of a seductive gaze that serves the mechanism of placing the female body on display. The oversize, voracious blossoms reverse the “docile” image of the enclosed brides, bringing to the surface the plethora of threatening literature that accompanies feminine genitalia. One of her most mature works is the androgynous form of a mother, traversing a nightmare forest, babe in arms, a work where the technique of infinitum intensifies the sense of anxiety.