Meditative play between original and reproduction

One of the fundamental techniques in meditation is to concentrate on a specific object or thought and to observe it in all its detail. The technique improves concentration and enhances awareness but is also an effective way to clear the mind and attain inner peace. In Lizzie Calliga’s «Finds 2000-2006: Original Replicas,» her solo exhibition open for a few more days at the Nees Morfes Gallery, one will sense a kindred sense of awareness and soothing calmness. Calliga draws her subjects after lengthy observation and, somehow, this feeling of realization and the repose that ensues becomes imprinted in her work. Calliga collects fragments of the mosaic tiles that have washed up on the shores of Spetses and studies them closely, then draws them with photographic exactitude in watercolors. She also takes photographs of the original «found objects» or makes prints of them. The original items are then grouped together with the photographs, prints or drawings of them in ensembles that address the relationship between the original and its copy. In effect, her work also contemplates how the past continues to live in the present, how it is remembered and reproduced. By repeatedly copying the mosaics, it is as if Calliga wants to make them part of the present, imagining where they came from, reviving something of their history and turning that history into something tactile. In the end, which is more real? The actual fragment or its copy? Something that happened but belongs to the past or the way our imagination brings it into the present? At times, the resemblance between the original and the copy is striking. In one part of the exhibition, a piece of textile (the part of an awning) is placed next to a print that replicates the image and, right next to it, a watercolor of it. The textures and colors in the printed image are so vivid that one cannot believe that it is a print instead of an actual fabric unless one touches the paper. The image is a so-called Girclee print, made using the latest technology in printing, a technique which involves digital scanning and printing with archival inks. Another part of the exhibition shows an ensemble of paired watercolors. Each pair depicts the same mosaic painted on differently colored paper and is the outcome of Calliga’s efforts to reproduce the original. In a different work, the actual mosaics are positioned against the wall in an orderly, geometrical structure. On a separate wall, panels with glued-on fragments of objects are juxtaposed next to their painted image. Throughout the exhibition, the play between the real and its copy, past and present is constant. As long as we observe that reality and experience it to the fullest, both sides are equally vivid and meaningful. At Nees Morfes, 9a Valaoritou, 210.361.6165, to Saturday.

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