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In the Forest with the Fish

"They cast the jolly-boat on the shore, Yiannakis bade them farewell, down come too four sailors with four oars, they took him off.
They wished him goodbye, the jolly-boat returned to its ship. Poor Yiannakis sat on a rock and watched the ship sail away”.
Old - Sorokos, Fables of our people

“She thought she brought him to the room with the window that looked upon the poplars, far away upon a meadow with poplars, which would from time to time fill with water and which she, as a young girl, would also see from some window in her home and be anxiously impatient, she would be totally overcome by a feeling of nostalgia and fear without her knowing why. An almost sweet fear for something that happened there when she was perhaps much younger, or that would happen at any moment then and would be waiting for her, would make the poplars cry out to her: come, come…
...Many a time three or four children would chance out the same night in the same manner and the next morning the others would find bare spindles and wide baskets with crumbs”.
Ziranna Zateli, And with the light of the wolves they come back

“There is always a moment at childhood when the doors opens and the future is let in”.
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory

Speaking about the meaning of “metatropia” or “modulation” - a musical term which signals the theme of the exhibition, Ioanna Kafida explains it as “the change of tone, the constant urge of the creator to investigate and plunge into a new harmony whereby, even though apparently a basic melody is followed, in fact, everything changes”. “In descriptive painting”, Kafida goes on, “there hovers the same need for catharsis as that which is accomplished in the world of music”. A catharsis of the depicted faces from the commonplace, a penetrating gaze into an unknown world created by the need of constant change, which equally occupies the painter’s mind.

The unknown new world which dominates the new oeuvre of Kafida is based on seemingly simple new materials: the primary components, i.e., boys and girls portrayed in a blooming natural landscape, where sometimes the trees of a dark forest reign and at other times the sea water of a tranquil moist horizon, advocate the painter’s apparent disposition to draw the ideal pictures of a beautified and serene universe. The painter, however, recomposes the heroes of her images by choosing to represent them in a transformative and suspended age, disrobed of its own historicalness, in a state of dazzled surprise and constant subversion that signals the depictive field and inner psychic quality of each work.

Key in the reading of this mystical shell, which is inhabited by children and young adolescents, by fragile entities that in coming out of innocence come in terms with the universe, is the organic relationship Kafida shares with the natural environment of Magnesia, where she grew up: the secluded beaches of Volos and the woods with the ferns in the chestnut forests of Pelion, the landscape of Anavros, where she would always go, ever since she was a little girl, and walk thrusting her feet deeply in the sandy expanses of her walks, all blend together in her work with the lively memories of Papadiamantis and Theophilos, with the narrations of Greek folk tales, but also with the dreams she herself continuous to see.

From the same dreams at times emerge girls with loose hair aboard exiting boats, cradled in a delectable dream or brandishing sizeable fish as prizes of primeval nourishment and survival, while at other times melancholic boys perform a balancing act on the water, playing flutes to summon invisible spirits or the lost Pan, sometimes paddling quietly under the thick protective foliage of a tree, testing mentally their strengths. At times adolescents in perpetual introversive wandering accompanied by transparent magical glass bowls and black bird-omens nestling in deserted buildings and at other times century-old tortoises that embody the very meaning of time, which these children are searching, who themselves are lost in the somber woods. In their entirety, the works of this unity, inhabited by children stage-managed in space by the painter, floating amidst symbols and fluid poetic substance, signify the transition, the passage into another dimension or condition, the experience of the first unescorted journey into the world, where imposed solitude becomes perceptible both by the painter and by the beholder alike, to constitute a fundamental experience ushering into maturity and self-awareness.

The expressionistic painting idiom of Kafida emerges from within the selection of the nocturnal hour, enjoys an eclectic simplicity, and is registered within clearly discernible outlines and clear level colours that together reinforce the ever-intensifying sensation of an otherworldly theatricality and metaphysical hermeneutics, which is established in the picture. The perpetual subversion of the “inside” and the “outside”; the enclosed intense light sources, which are brought out of the darkness; the pulsating animal and plant world breathing ever so pallidly in the fissures of the canvas; the lifelike roots of the trees, which sense the visitors of the forest; the menacingly motionless sea that is united with the thick grayish heavenly element, are all proposed by Kafida as small parallel readings that talk about the perishable and the imperishable, about the natural and the contrived, as only but a few picturised punctuation marks and counterpoints of the cycle of birth and love, of life and death, of the fleetingness of our existences and the inevitable coming to be of nothingness.

Iris Kritikou
November, 2010


© 2010 - 2014 Ioanna Kafida