Evi Grigoropoulou: Unrealistic
19 January - 2 March 2013
Review by David Price
Evi Grigoropoulou’s recent paintings present the viewer with sets of subtle and highly material fields. The paintings delicately question the viewer’s ability to receive and perceive, and indeed question the degree to which comprehension is incumbent on them. One enters into a space of irregular uniformity in which the raw materials of the medium - both technical and pictorial - are made evident, but are gently bifurcated by the device of the vertical stripe. This alternation between paint and faintly glistening canvas notionally presents the viewer with painting and its absence, hinting at a theoretical position but doing so in an exactingly reticent voice. The stripe, as a gesture of simultaneously experienced alternation, also figures in the presence and absence of the works’ titles. Whilst certain paintings, such as the pale blue ‘Untitled’ (2012) are inherently pictorial, like a reduction of landscape in the manner of Bob Law, a work such as ‘It Needs Two More Coats of Rabbit Skin Glue But the Rain Stops Me From Going to the Studio’ (2012) addresses in plain language its means and moment of production. These are, perhaps, two modes of the same voice, or two ‘expressions’ on what Michael Fried called the ‘face of painting’. Fried’s concern with the address a painting makes to its viewer is an apt notion through which to view Grigoropoulou’s work. One is compelled to consider what layer within the work the stripes sit upon. They are both the surface and the support for the artwork of which they are parts, but are also its interface.
A counterpart to the pale blue ‘Untitled’ is positioned on the facing wall, and confirms the lineage of abstracted landscape that occasionally locates these works. Another ‘Untitled’ (2012), which the artist informally subtitles ‘Landscape in Calm’, gestures through Bob Law and further back into the vocabulary (both pictorial and titular) of Ben Nicholson. These sets of layers bring to mind the multiple meanings of the word ‘film’ - a layer, but also a membrane, a filament and a narrative record. Visual and metaphorical strips and stripes are latticed throughout the selection of works. This is, perhaps, a glimpse into the prismatic potential painting might hold as a medium in the contemporary moment, where the surface of a static work can be charged with artistic thought that rests upon it in the form of an intentionally un-conducted current.
But, as the exhibition’s title indicates, this complex means of address to the viewer is quite deliberate - the works can properly be called multi-faceted, and are ‘unrealistic’ presentations of themselves. Even the stripe, the exhibition’s recurring motif, is excepted at times. In one smaller painting, ‘Pop’ (2012), the image-surface is formed by another kind of regular mark referred to by the artist as ‘bubble painting’. A considered notion of language in the work is consolidated here, as an onomatopoeia of process rises to the surface of the viewer’s perception. A much looser painting of horizontal stripes, however, is untitled. These exceptions to the exhibition’s gently enforced rules serve to condition the viewer into seeing the works with the same measured consideration as their production, and to meet them, as it were, face to faces.