Capitain Petzel

Christiana Soulou

03 Mar - 14 Apr 2012

© Christiana Soulou
A figure, covered entirely with red vine leaves, is seated on a capital playing the flute, 2012
Pencil on paper
29.4 x 41.7 cm
I Accept If You Can Tolerate Me Silently
3 March - 14 April, 2012

Fervor, line, beauty and the soul: a language.

The same fervor of Dante’s Vita Nova permeates Christiana Soulou’s earliest works — in particular the drawing of a human skeleton titled I Accept if You Can Tolerate Me Silently, or La Bergère, the incarnation of amorous ecstasy.

Since her earliest drawings, all work by Soulou has been characterized by the expressive qualities of the line. The line follows a musical plasticity, and is modulated by its subtlety, its thickness, its clarity. As the line will wound the paper, the line will heal it. Like music, her oeuvre is non-representational. We can compare her work to madrigals, short musical pieces for a small group of voices.

Beauty, an essential quest of the artist’s work, can either be spurned or desired, and it is inextricable from love. But beauty is not pleasing, although it is defined by an aesthetical judgement. Beauty is the expression of that which is hidden, it is therefore enigmatic. It is a characteristic of the soul; moreover, it is a quality of the torment of the soul.

The work of Christiana Soulou more than drawing, is the development of a language. It is a work with a philosophical dimension, inscribed in the tradition of thinkers such as Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille and Heinrich von Kleist. What the artist shares with these authors and their work is the experience of limits and the exploration of the human condition. Her work is inseparable from the development of thinking, as witnessed by the artist’s parallel activity of writing.

Soulou becomes the characters of her drawings; there is no descriptiveness in her work.

This exhibition comprises a selection works from 1982, and four major series of drawings, two of which made for the exhibition in Berlin.

Water (1983-85) is the trial of a soul that reclaims its body. With gravity displaced over a lapse of 71 stanzas, Water gives a voice, a grammar, and a syntax to the pain of ex-centricity.

In time and in conception, Roman Ruin (The Public) (2012) antecedes Water. It was once lost, or destroyed and it was recently drawn again. (In memory only, reconsidered passiony—t.s. eliot)
It is the cruel dialogue, un canto d’amore between two lovers.

The Tarots are a research on human characters and do not narrate a story: they propose ways of being, paths of behaviour and the way of fate. The 22 tarots form a circle, and are the correlative of the curvilinear perspective of her drawings, and the mirror of the wider structure of Dante’s otherworld, to be experienced in circular motion.

The Dead Man –inspired by Georges Bataille’s text from 1964 -- is when and where sexuality becomes full fledged. It is composed of 14 drawings “dans un chemin de beauté”. It is an elegy to Marie’s dead lover written by Bataille in the language of sexual ecstasy, here with full awareness of the body. Soulou’s The Dead Man recognizes the body as the arena where the soul with its pain, its pleasure, its longing and its violence are staged.

Tags: Antonin Artaud, Christiana Soulou