Visual Artist

Maria Papacharalambous

 

 

 

In 2006 a solo exhibition entitled «Re-tales» – light as a feather and free as the wind, at the ARTos Foundation and at the Microtaz Art Centre in Madrid.

Selected  by Rafael Nunez for the ARTENAVAS 06 exhibition at Las Navas de Marces in Spain and by the 'Apollonia European Art Exchanges' for the «Meeting Europe – Memory» at Apollonia centre in Strasbourg , France in 2006 and in 2007 at the Walloon Contemporary Art Centre in Liege in Belgium.

Hanging paintings/ banners and installation.
Challenge after challenge. The personal wager this time was to create works as a painter but without the use of paint and brushes.Substruction of paint and the use of brushes, a phenomenical personal catharsis from paint which actually leads a catharsis from pain and time (PAINT = PAIN + t*)  Recycling of ideas, experiences and materials in a printed surface that could be the DNA mapping. The deepest secrets of our 'soma' body. An infiltration to the deepest landscape of  the subconcious of the 'personal' and 'universal'.

*t=the symbol of time in physics.
A personal catalogue was published [ISBN: 9963 - 8703 - 3 - 3] with text from the following art historian and critics Pere Paramon (Spain), Katerina Koskina (Greece), and Giuliano Serafini (Italy)          (see all texts below the video)

Also catalogs by ARTENAVAS 06 and Apollonia text by Francisco Carpio, Spain and Daphne Nikita, Cyprus.

 

 




  • Mixed Media
    Dimensions:
    350 X 90 - Height can be altered from 250 - 350cm

    Work from this series can be found at

    • Cyprus National state gallery
    • Private collections in Cyprus and abroad
    • ResArt  - Art Design Hotel

     

     

    Katerina Koskina

    Director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

     

    “Re-tales by Maria Papacharalambous”

     

    How easy is it for something to become as light as a feather and as free as the wind? How often can such a thing be not merely metaphorical, but real and actual? How, in fact, is such a thing possible? The only way I know of is through poetry, through artistic creation, at that place where the boundaries between reality and fantasy, the physical and the metaphysical are abolished. It seems that Maria Papacharalambous agrees with this position since she has decided to give her new work the title Re-tales, “Leger comme une plume et libre comme l’ air ». But what does the word Re-tales suggest? It is my belief that an etymological analysis is the key to an understanding of her latest work?

    Through poetic licence the word Re-tales can be taken to say a great deal. It is, in any case, only through poetic licence that this word can be synthesised, given meaning and sense. I believe therefore that the artist is making use of this particular word in order to indicate the process to which she turns in order to cut, select, reject and finally keep only what is today essential to her to create her works on the basis of her artistic "apprenticeship" and experience. Thus she declares that she is now able to paint with the use of fragments and materials, without the use of a brush, whose role in her work, although of decreasing importance, she had until today maintained. The cloth background, which in her previous works was painted freely with large strokes, now consists of clean pieces of fabric cut into wide strips, synthesising an orchestrated puzzle. This is a clear reference to handicraft, which here, however, is elevated to a conscious act of artistic creation. It is a tender recognition of the artistic side of women's labours and at the same time, an acknowledgment of the contribution of the artist's nature, in parallel with his or her knowledge and experience.

    It becomes quickly evident that the artist's aim is to record her experiences and memories on the corpus of her work. Through this process Maria Papacharalambous succeeds in projecting that which is today essential and in ridding herself of that which she no longer considers necessary. At the same time, she also frees herself from the burden, perhaps the pain, caused in her by the impossibility of transcending the medium of painting without losing the result of painting. This she now achieves by replacing the physical act of painting by the creation of a singular collage that combines painting with fragments of children's toys and clothes. The fact that the works are presented upright and unmounted is due possibly to the artist's desire to endow them with movement that would allow them to be transformed into banners - symbols of a particular value - so that they can be disseminated as widely and as far as possible. I believe that this value has to do with a release from rules and the promotion of the importance of memory, which is conceived by the creative process and awaits the appropriate moment to seek its own space. One could therefore accept that Maria Papacharalambous lifts up her works like banners, in celebration of a new, freer and more mature phase of her work.

    On the other hand, it is also possible that influenced by her children, she was inspired for this series by the fairy tales, the stories she repeats night after night at their bedside and which, as they are changed to a greater or lesser extent, are gradually transformed into new stories, new situations. Thus, in the same way that by changing certain things in a story we are led to a different reality, she too has altered the process of developing her work, removing or adding materials which are transformed into artistic values, when the work is completed and hung. It is the revelation of a mental process, which is related to narration. The artist synthesises visually the story she narrates in the same way as a fairy tale is composed of images, imagination and words. She sews it literally and metaphorically with the red thread of Greek fairy tales spun on the spinning-wheel, in order to turn it into a painting which expresses both the freshness of childhood and the sadness of its loss. Her paintings stand high, light and airy, but their verticality and length (about 3.5 metres) give them a monumental character that contrasts sharply with the humble and vulnerable materials that compose them (rags, scraps of cloth, ribbons, knitted fabrics, children's clothes, toys).

    In this combination of opposites, of both joy and sorrow, brought about by the same look into the world of childhood, and of monumentality and cheapness might be found a second clue to the approach of the work of Maria Papacharalambous.

    It is evident from the title of the exhibition also that the artist is trying through words and deeds to link or combine certain things. And she succeeds in this by converting her inner truth and sensitivity with great ease and certainty into visual discourse. I believe that Maria Papacharalambous chose to give the form of a childish image made of rags (retalia in Greek - hence Re-tales) in order to refer to something very serious and which she herself is attempting to exorcise by turning it into a plaything. In any case, who says that play is not a serious business? Who is to say that it is not initiation, knowledge and expression, that at the same time leaves one with a great sense of freedom, remaining as it does permanently interwoven with childhood? It is to play that we adults turn in order to rest but also to enable us to get close to situations that would otherwise be very hard for us to approach.

    With artistic mastery, Maria Papacharalambous synthesises a small world, which, at first sight, appears childish. A microcosm, which, if looked at carefully, is governed by a strict structure, reminiscent of DNA mapping, on which are "grafted" like toys the acquired elements that define us. The reconstruction of the image attempted through the use of styles such as patchwork, puzzle and collage and the reconstruction of memory through fragments of childhood chosen because of their common mnemonic load is a process doubly painful - both emotionally and conceptually, which succeeds in transfusing the word of children into the world of adults. How else other than with play could one otherwise escape the pain and manage to transfuse idiosyncrasy and privacy in the work offered for exhibition and "consumption"? Well, I believe that Maria Papacharalambous has found the most suitable way by making full use of the power granted to her as creative artist. Showing what is serious to be light, lifting it "high as a feather, free as the wind”.

     

    Katerina Koskina

    Art historian and curator

    Athens (May 2006)




     

     







    Pere Parramon,

    Art critic and curator, Girona (April 2006)

     

    “Gonfalons and magic”

     

    A gondola sporting the gonfalon of the Orsini shortly arrived, and I got on board with Silvio, Juan Bautista and my luggage, feeling better all of a sudden for the simple fact that I could see the rose, serpent and bears fluttering on the small standard.

    Manuel Mujica Lainez, Bomarzo (1962).

    There was a time when happiness and horror were played out beneath the bright colours of brilliant flags. Charlemagne shared his command with Roland by bestowing a standard upon him; the authority of the Kings of France was legitimised by holy banners; and King Arthur’s army gathered beneath proud standards to fight Mordred in the days when Excalibur was a symbol of power in the world. These were pieces of cloth that cast heraldic messages to the wind and blended history with myth. Regardless of whether they were born of mortal flesh or dreamt up by minstrels, the princes of centuries gone by and the knights of legend were illuminated in our imagination by the light of the banners fluttering above their heads. One such ensign, the name of which has virtually fallen into disuse today, was the gonfalon, a flag usually bearing several tails and suspended from a crosspiece to accentuate its verticality. In the quote above, the Renaissance nobleman Pier Francesco takes shelter beneath the gonfalon of the Orsini family, the public image of his lineage, one that distinguishes him from other men. While it does not convert him into a character from a tale it takes him, nevertheless, a step closer to the territory that extends beyond the merely human. And, as if that were not enough, the hunchbacked duke treats the flag as if it were a close relative, displaying an intimacy that, somewhat contradictorily, is far more private than it is public. He is aware that the piece of fabric reflects his outward image in addition to another reserved solely for his close family. Reality and fiction, the public and the private are interwoven and indistinguishable in the cloth of old flags. Thread and paradoxes hang from their poles.

    Even today there are people who keep a watchful eye on the selfsame tension generated by these opposites. One such person is Maria Papacharalambous, an artist closely bound to ancient times. Born a mere two years after Mujica Lainez wrote Bomarzo, in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, a city whose name evokes the clashes between opposing empires, her most recent work combines forms and materials that link up in subterranean fashion with the gonfalons of yore. The series “re-tales” -Leger comme une plume et libre comme l'air (2005) consists of monumental pieces (fabrics stretching 3.5 metres long). When viewed together, both equally solemn, they have an overpowering effect. Only the weight of fabric on a wall could look so magnificent, be so closely linked to the mysterious times in which the shadowy darkness of castles was broken by tapestries and banderoles peopled by enigmatic ladies, unicorns and other chimera of Good and Evil – the fifteenth-century La dame a la licorne being one such example. Papacharalambous’ series may impose, but it was not designed to overwhelm. The same is true of the great sculpted heroes of the fourteenth-century Beautiful Fountain in Nuremberg at the end of the XIV century – literary and historical figures of the stature of Hector, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and Godfried of Bouillon to name but a few. One is almost tempted to kneel down in front of them. It is then that you realise they are not there to make us feel humble, but to enrich us with their virtues. At the same time, and by way of initiating the fascinating dance of contradictions that underpin Papacharalambous’ oeuvre, what distinguishes her work from the sumptuous art of medieval times is its complete lack of show and ostentation. When viewed separately, the pieces of “re-tales” -Leger comme une plume... are revealed for what they are: modest and penetrating exercises in intuition. In their evocative subtlety they are reminiscent of the series 21.III.2003 by the Catalan artist Matilde Grau, who, over several weeks, outlined the ever-changing shadows cast by the tree visible from the window of her studio in Charlotte (North Carolina, USA) before embroidering them on large rectangular pieces of fabric. Papacharalambous and Grau invoke memories of evenings spent by women patiently embroidering and sewing, absorbed by the task of connecting and joining things that were once separate to each other. There is something in these tasks of transformation that evokes the mechanisms of memory, also bound up in the recreation of experiences. Fabrics stained by impersonal machines, scraps cobbled together in makeshift fashion, the use of recycled items: everything in Papacharalambous’ gonfalons is founded on that humble yet equally beautiful material we call “memory”. It is a material that, following its very own logic, is nourished by both lived and imagined experiences, a material that so many ladies leaning over distaffs and embroidery rings knew so well. In order to handle such fragility they had to be very strong.

    Papacharalambous’ determination grows with the selection of her main theme. Childhood makes an appearance in a good number of pieces through the use of charming little objects attached to the fabrics, such as toys, smiling dolls, plastic animals and minute pieces of clothing, all of them fading traces of infancy. Herein lies yet another paradox – the old as a metaphor for the new. They are vestiges of a time in which magical thought has not yet drowned in the rationalism of adulthood, a time when the mythical still possessed the same ontological value as empirical facts (in other words, the time of Merlin, Gandalf and other great magicians). Papacharalambous’ gonfalons are raised like triumphant standards championing a lost era that memory turns into a paradise, days in which anything could be recreated through magic, through spells such as the one used by the bard in the ancient Finnish saga Kalevala: “Old man Vainamoinen sang: / the lake stirred the ground shook, the coppery hills trembled / the hard rocks exploded / the stones split in two / even the rocks on the riverbanks.” (Rune III, 290-295, according to Elias Lonnrot’s version).

    In moulding childhood with such delicacy, Papacharalambous employs consummate skill to deal with the hazards normally associated with the subject – to drift without intention towards the sinister or kitsch. In the hands of another artist, a bootee or baby’s pyjamas suspended – somewhat defencelessly it has to be said – on fabrics of subdued colours would become the remnants of hypothetical tragedies. By contrast, here, far from the ground, they become almost sublime tender entities that draw a smile from the onlooker. Nor are they kitsch, should we say, because the bright colours and the soft, rounded, plump forms of the toys have been shaped with extreme care so as to distinguish their very essence. With exemplary compositional balance, the proportion of children’s toys is so exact that far from being abusive, the image created is one of extreme dignity.

    Not everything is as lively, however. In fact, it cannot be so. The proposals put forward by the artist, such as the Orsini gonfalon, are sustained by opposites. Where there is joy – a child’s smiling face – there must also be sadness. The fact is that what is evoked can only be evoked because it has happened. Therein lies the wonder and the trap laid by memory. Thanks to Leonardo da Vinci we know that the most distant parts of a landscape must be painted with blues and greys. Similarly, Papacharalambous’ palette, trained on a distant time, consists of dark glacier-like tones, aquatic combinations, and misty colours reminiscent of slate, appropriate all of them for those who lose their way in the mists of time and myth. In conjunction, and to heighten the feeling of loss (and paradox), she resorts to raw materials that are remarkably close at hand – remnants left to gather dust in forgotten draws and lofts, patched-up pieces that still retain something of their original use: the distant and the nearby, the beautiful and the sad.

    Maria Papacharalambous’ art is utterly contemporary and unburdened (one of most important contemporary Catalan artist Antoni Llena, always says that the only real and possible revolution in painting must be done without paint). It is precisely for this reason that it links up so seamlessly with the timeless – with the tale, with the temporary suspension of legend – and with other centuries, as there are certain concerns and desires that persist in spite of change and which only intrepid artists have the nerve to investigate, deep-seated concerns linked to our place in the world, melancholy anxieties that manifest themselves before works such as “re-tales” -Leger comme une plume et libre comme l'air. It is in such works that they become visible and rise above our heads like flags “as light as a feather and as free as the air.” They are genuinely magical.



    Translated from Spanish by: Ada Ibacete Solanilla


















    Jiuliano Serafini,

    Art historian, Curator, Flonence, 2006



    Dalla materia alla “cosa”

    Από την ΰλη στο “πράγματα”

    From matter to the ‘thing’

     

    From my very first meeting with Maria Papacharalambous in 2001 at Nicosia I was able to establish the extraordinary width of her creative register, that omnivorous curiosity which singles out the authentic artist, the artist who ‘dares’.

     

    She has explored the realms of painting, sculpture, environment, theatre, video and more, both at home and abroad, driven by a very strong experimental impulse which makes the practice of art an always-open, always progressing path with goals – wherever one admits the need for them – unfailingly mobile, and so also unreachable.

     

    From that moment on, beyond the disorientating complexity of her work and its means of expression, I was able to sense a constant element of very personal language under the surface not easy to place critically, yet latent everywhere: an element of secondary import, like an aftertaste perceived, emerging from a context that perhaps is even too full of ideas, demands, moods, and which without effort ends by imposing itself upon everything to the point of becoming the central thread of the work.

     

    In order to analyse the causes of my impressions – which while they may come from the past are still valid today when faced with her latest production – one has to first relate to the ‘substantial’ shape of her work: to the very close attention which the artist has always paid to matter since her period of painting tout court – to the element that, beyond the metaphor, constitutes the ‘maternal’ factor of every creative expression.

     

    It may help to recall here that the etymological root of the word ‘matter’ comes from the Sanscript ‘mât’ meaning ‘making with the hands’, but also ‘giving life’, instilling “mâtram”, energy.

     

    Instinctively Papacharalambous was thus paying her debt as a ‘female’ artist, attaching to her own condition as a woman the prerogatives, inclinations and the destiny that art always recognises to its practitioner. That redundancy of materic element in her work became (and continues to become) the signal of the impact that takes place between artistic vocation and private universe, an impact that despite the scepticism expressed by Oscar Wilde in the words “to reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim”, always manages to resurface even when one wants and believes it to be removed

     

    In other words Maria Papacharalambous immediately detected the instruments and means which corresponded to her by ‘genetic’ right and predestination.  She was determined to work on them without turning them into some sort of pseudo-feminist banner or trophy, as if it were an ideological and blackmailing vindication directed at her possible ‘judges’. The fact is that over time she rediscovered her most authentic nature as an artist in that repertory, and then it was no longer a question of belonging to one “half of the sky” or the other – as Mao Tse-Tung put it.

     

    The fascination for matter already at the end of the ‘80s had powerfully imposed itself in Papacharalambous’ painting. Look at the density of the impasto, expressionistic brushstrokes, the use of extra-pictorial materials mingled with colour such as paper, vegetal elements, feathers: everything emerges superimposed upon a layer of scratched and tortured pigment which impressed all sorts of textures and extroversions upon pictorial surfaces. Any manual intervention, even frottage, seemed legitimate if it were to satisfy this total immersion of the artist into her materic universe.

     

    The iconographical framework limited itself to large chromatic patches circumscribing elementary and geometrically-tending structures of a geological and chthonic flavour, primordial landscapes, Anatolian deserts – even if in reality nothing became recognisable, suspended as the image was between figuration and informel.  

     

    These were works of great austerity connotated by a ‘low’ tonal range wholly decanted upon a register that consisted of raw sienna, greys, blacks and blues with rare openings to whites.  If upon initial inspection Fautrier and Burri, or anyway the historical thread of art autre, might here appear to be Papacharalambous’ reference point, this painting’s cultural ascendency becomes in the end difficult to formulate. It is as if the artist had wanted to do what she wanted, starting from herself, living intensely in first person the adventure which she had been allowed to live  (an anamolous choice moreoever, considering the generation she comes from.)

     

    Therefore, an intentional rejection of her ‘forebears’, the desire alone to put herself to the test, to compete, to challenge a hitherto unidentified ‘adversary’– this was Papacharalambous’ real debut in the world of art. On the other hand, Margherite Yourcenar also writes that “to create is to look into darkness.”

     

    She proceeded at a fast pace and gathered from the Zeitgeist  –  because she could not avoid doing so – subliminal suggestions which in time bore fruit.  Specifically, she headed towards a vision inspired by a sort of soft neo-dadaism. Within a painting increasingly the orphan of cultural debts the artist found herself ‘grafting’ on figurative elements that now reached the point of being even too recognisable, and which certainly created a traumatic impact upon the onlooker.  The fact that this was an ‘ingenuous’ and ‘playful’ iconographic repertory was of no help: on the contrary, it was precisely that extraneousness compared to the pictorial ‘text’ which supported it that alarmed us and caused us to reflect.

     

    What we then saw appear on the scene were spontaneous insurgencies of the unconscious, perhaps too long kept back, ‘pollutions’ of the involuntary memory, references to the origins of conscience and life: certainly autobiographical fragments of a private microcosm which became signals of a deep nostalgia,  an irremediable loss.

     

    Papacharalambous opened a sentimental stream of balloons, flying fish, small elephants, umbrellas and little hearts emerging timidly to proliferate in an inexorable crescendo from those high and precluded horizons after the action painting. They consisted of intrusions of tiny one-dimensional images which climbed the impervious structures of that painting, climbed upon its phallic protuberances and over its vertical seas which by contrast appeared even more formless, to the point of generating a sort of limbo of vision in the onlooker.

     

    Matter as ‘sense’, and story as ‘sentiment’, confonted each other in an improbable dialogue, presenting us with a dimension of enchanted nonsense and deviating our perception towards other mysterious territories.

     

    Papacharalambous new scene was only apparently soft and sweet. Those infantile memorabilia asking to be reborn were not so innocent if the unsettling feeling they were aimed at were to become the real conceptual fulcrum of the work.

     

    One might instead speak of humour placed at the service of a nervous, divining talent able to surprise at every turn, even by means of expedients and instruments  –  as in this case – which are anomalous and ‘improper’.

     

    Today Papacharalambous’ work appears to have become even more impatient of rules and canons, almost as if it had suffered for too long from claustrophobia within its two-dimensional space and were searching for a way out to the ‘external’, towards the real world, aspiring to its own autonomy as an object, to become ‘thing’ rather than representation of the thing.

     

    In this way the work takes its own ‘organic’ path, is reborn at every turn from the ‘seed’ of the preceding one, with an internal coherence that belies its apparent discontinuity. As for Rainer Maria Rilke, Papacharalambous demonstrates that “one has to give in to what comes”, has to witness the continuous evolution of her work as if in a state of irresponsibility, of fatalistic acceptance of what has been given as one’s lot in life.  

     

    Then it is not so difficult to realise that regression to childhood, that recovery of a season which – just as it appears to us all – seemed too short, has shifted her awareness now onto another sort of ‘start’: that of the collective consciousness which moves closer to its most obscure and unfathomable origins.

     

    From this we obtain the ‘ethnographical’ imprint – but an interior ethnography which is common to the entire human race – and which the artist provides to her banners, covers, her patchwork textile panels complete with pockets, frills and fringes that denote their domestic and ‘poor’ origin.  The fact that they consist of recycled material attests to their essential mnemonic value. It is like saying that we are faced again with an act of “exhumation” conducted by the artist.

     

    The diachronism we sense lies precisely in that comparison between a poetic dimension of total intimacy and the suggestion of objects used by nomadic peoples – tents, carpets, fabrics protecting from the heat and the cold – wherever in any case the idea of a house and family habitat resurface unmistakeably as a desire for sedentariness and permanence.

     

    The primary use of textiles is an even too clear reference to mythical atavism (Ariadne and Penelope) but also to a generative identity (the umbilical cord), anyway redeeming and propitiatory of  the ‘return’ – and a further sign of a will to bring to unity a psychic universe which instead is predisposed to avoid it.

     

    Take for example Rauschenberg’s famous Bed, that inhospitable place of repose which subverts the common sense of things, a work which belongs to that phase of Pop Art which with reason was still Neo Dada. These works of Papacharalambous, which in a way may evoke it through iconographical affinity, constitute its antinomic pole through poetic and conceptual finality.

    Wherever in Rauschenberg there is a deviation from the natural order of every aesthetic rule, disintegrating the system of associations of thought, here instead the puzzle of memory transforming  the work into an allegory of time is recomposed and reconstructed.

     

    In a season of visual research which sees Koons and Cattelan guaranteeing the most cynical reworkings of figurative codes ispired by the playful and the banal, Papacharalambous continues undaunted along her way to the rehabilitation of this ‘light’ category of the spirit, even if this consists of a redemption which cannot be sufficient unto itself and which, should we need to be reminded of it again, leads to no goal.

     

    ‘Sacred’ relics, apotropaic and ex-voto fetishes, presumably rooted in the Id, these toys which the artist hangs like tender voodoos upon the reassuring blankets of her little girl’s beds, dislocate again our field of enquiry. Once painted, now they materialise into real dolls, cuddly toys, little mirrors, butterflies, baby pyjamas, cups, boats, toads that sooner or later will turn into white knights. Their sought-for physicality, the fact of being promoted to the state of ‘thing’ – which upon closer inspection represents the natural settling point for what once was only ‘matter’ – is the very cause of their elusiveness.

     

    What we see becomes essentially deception. Nothing is less real and plausible than what in itself has all the requirements for belonging to the world of reality, whether imagined or not. In this oxymoron, where the tautological evidence is able only to produce distance and estrangement, lies the charm of Papacharalambous’ work: her very meaningful ambiguity.

     

    Basically, the artist seems to admit, making art consists ‘only’ of pushing reality even further away from the territory of creation.  



    Jiuliano Serafini,

    Art historian, Curator,

    Flonence, 2006









    Francisco Carpio

    Art critic, professor de Bellas Artes de la UFV Spain, 2007

     

    “text on Maria Papacharalambous”

     

    Maria Papacharalambous’ works could potentially be classified within the slippery and multifaced  type of art.  And I explain. They could be tagged as artistic events, which eat, drink and refuel through the fountains of a pluralistic female universe.  Sails, textiles, various fabrics, stamps, prunes, lace: these are the words-materials of this language of identity and memory.

    These works are recognized for their value, but their technical features are defined with difficulty: perhaps as collage, assembled pieces, maybe even works of object painting (pintura objeto) or simply compatible materials which manage to give form to a puzzle which depicts the female identity.  An awesome and desirable riddle.




    Daphne Nikita,

    Art Historian, Curator 2007

     

    “Memory: Controlling the past”

     

    ….The house- installation of Maria Papacharalambous consists of a series of long, narrow ‘pictures’ made from various materials that are ephemeral, yet heavy with memories, experiences and representations. The way in which Maria Papacharalambous ‘unites’ the materials she chooses transmits a beneficial and magical force which creates qualities, textures and shades, thereby remoulding the materials into a spiritual and sensual landscape.

    Louise Bourgeois once said, ‘ Everyday you have to abandon your past or accept it and then if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor.’ This is precisely what Maria Papacharalambous does by saving fragments of the past, without however trying to rebuilt it completely. This selective use of objects from a bygone era, such as dolls, children’s clothes and animals, functions as a substitute for herself as a physical and spiritual being, as a protective ‘second skin’, while at the same time helping her to redefine her personal and national identity, through her personal history as a woman, wife and mother. Thus, Maria Papacharalambous’ works are redolent of body, which is the first and most complete source of experiences and the yardstick of things, but also the house, which functions as a catalyst for memory, since it is here that human relationships and emotions are triggered, live and die. Dreams, fears, desires, anxieties and obsessions, become a spark for the exploration of personal memory, but also by extension, of the process of creation itself, which is transformed for the spectator into a tangible offer of an artistic adventure.

    Albert Camus writes in ‘L’homme révolté’, ‘ The irrational which claims to express man in his loneliness, makes him live in some way in front of a mirror. The initial division is in danger of being comfortable and pleasant. The wound which we scratch so carefully gives pleasure in the end.’ In Marias Papacharalambous’ work, beauty and tragic nature co-exist, the joys and the wounds, the dream and the reality, the irrational and the beauty of female expectation and desire. In the world of her creation, the memories which rise up from the depths of her subconscious, the feelings of loneliness or despair, are turned into poetry, giving depth and magic to her art.

    The artist creates her own ‘house’ with the help of a needle, which functions ‘ beneficially’ and ‘ magically’, joining old fabrics together, turning them, beyond lyrical personal images, in to symbols demonstrating the therapeutic quality that art itself offers to the creator. Papacharalambous uses a needle to repair the ‘damage’ which time brings to every animate or inanimate thing that exists. It is a magical and special way of exorcising past nightmares or even restoring her own self and becoming reconciled with the past.

     

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