Presentation of the work:
’’Dialogue between Intellect and Matter’’

By Evagoria Dapola
Art Historian and Theorist

Michael Foucault, the French philosopher, believed that the panoptic on visual system was a new core tool used to exercise power. However, power could be created by politicizing aesthetic beauty, providing it with a new sense of purpose. The act of painting is represented clearly in Elena Kouma’s work, as if it is a statement on its own, confronting us with and engaged practice that draws and reforms, in critical times where any medium could be afforded the status of painting. Kouma subconsciously borrows the visual vocabulary of the panoptic on to create a constellation of images focusing on fragile balances and tensions between the imaginary and the material. This ‘reinvestment’ in aesthetic languages is evident in her work that focuses on narrative and abstraction, evoking the fragile tangibility of nature, intertwining materiality with conceptual playfulness. In her art, Kouma combines certain sensibility and fragility with the outright audacity of geometry. Her work constitutes an initiatory environment for the spectator, one punctuated only by the trajectory of the light.

The work is a testament to the visual discursively of images, may they be paintings, drawings or collages, that offer ways both out and in to a conceptual post-modernity. The emotion and physicality of her paintings, drawings and collages, set her work apart from mere depictions of nature and geometry, communicating a harmonic present. She manages to bring opposites together in her creations, rediscovering chaos in order in a free geometrical repetition and offering a harmonic and balanced manipulation of subject matter, as filtered by broader visual culture. Geometry and figuration are intermingled: shapes are shifted, geometry bends around itself, new patterns emerge while figuration refers to volumes and bodies in space. The works are emotionally charged, often with a sense of fragility or vulnerability.

Elements of different contexts are reflected in the works, forming an imaginary field that is ever-changing. She explores how the living could be entangled with its environment, creating an arena of sensation and relationships, between forms and volumes, light and darkness, matter and conception. Defined by a sensitive geometry, driven only by rays of natural light that penetrate the gloom, the work calls for a reading that becomes active: encouraging exploration and contemplation, asking the audience to rediscover the essence of the living self and inner balance. Evolving in environments which are in turn organic and geometric, spiritual and material, the work celebrates the oppositions between the animate and inanimate.

The unique dynamic of her works is found in the positioning of prominent shapes that together project tensions expressed through a geometry that is sensible and powerful. Thus, the exhibition offers new vanishing lines, challenging perspectives which open both towards the interior and exterior. Her work reminds us that without recourse to nostalgia, painting invests in new notions of nature and beauty, harmony and empathy into re-presentations of a new reality through systems of visual signification that satisfy our hunger for painted yet radical images. Kouma belongs to a generation of painters unafraid of their own appetite for painting that employs their sublime, confronting their subjects with visual imagination that allow them to explore drawing and collage, while also security the autonomy of painting. The works balance poetics and politics, private and public striking in their painterly approach to pattern and geometry, formal precision and abstraction with an extended palette of cold colors.