Delicate drawings of our inner world

The drawings that an artist makes are usually considered to be subsidiary to his paintings, yet the directness, vividness and intimate quality that the medium possesses gives them a distinctive and most appealing personality of their own. Christiana Soulou’s drawings have that intimate quality together with the flawlessness of a finished work. Drawing is actually the artist’s sole medium. It is what best expresses her ideas, «the most dense visual language» in her own description. They are dense in meaning and content yet spare and delicate in form; almost ethereal. Soulou’s drawings, under the title «Joi» (meaning inner, deep pleasure in medieval French) at her solo exhibition at Galerie 3, are tacit yet wonderfully moving and strangely powerful, with a gripping combination of gentleness and sharpness. Almost as if taken out of a fairy tale, the graceful creatures that inhabit her drawings take the viewer through a strange voyage into the world of myth, allegory and the human psyche. The human figure is a recurring theme yet physicality is barely emphasized. Soulou’s silhouette-like figures are not about flesh, mass or volume. They do not belong to a particular time and place context and seem more like ideas or archetypes than portraits. The artist’s intention is to capture that which lies behind the body: the aura of one’s presence, the thoughts and feelings, the imprints that experiences and memories leave on physical presence, all that which is invisible yet defines our existence. According to Soulou: «By constantly being represented, the body has ended up being an aesthetic alibi. The body does not show the body anymore except to hide it.» Somewhat like X-rays, Soulou’s drawings wish to reveal more than surface reality. They barely record a human figure in a specific moment but include elements that hint at its past life and suggest the future. This is also why many of her drawings depict motion: One of the drawings, for example, shows successive frames of a sailing boat. Soulou considers motion to be the equivalent of a phrase in language. She actually uses phrases, in most cases taken out of poetry (verse from Nikos Gatsos, Miltos Sachtouris or John Keats) as titles for her paintings. In Soulou’s drawings one will find skill and poetry. The quality of her work brought it to the attention of the curators in charge of the recent Berlin Biennale where Soulou took part (her work is also shown in the exhibition «Panic Room» at the DESTE foundation). Her participation at this international event is counted among one of the few public displays of her work until now. Somehow, her discreet personality comes through in the finesse of her drawings. Innocent-looking yet strangely threatening, Soulou’s works hint at our inner world and collective unconscious. A gem-like exhibition, «Joi» probes the depths of human psychology and leaves the viewer with a feeling of melancholy pleasure. At Galerie 3 (3 Fokylidou, tel 210.360.8984) to June 3.