Stella Meletopoulou, what are your “Origins”?

STEFANOS TSITSOPOULOS | Athensvoice, 12 April 2022
“Painting liberates me and places me on more optimistic paths. My works detoxify the mind.”

Stella Meletopoulou: An interview with the artist on the occasion of the exhibition Origins, currently on show at the Skoufa Gallery.

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine set an utterly dystopian stage but also lead to a generally accepted fact: nature and people – we are all at the mercy of the fragility of the moment: place and sustainability are not a given. In Origins, her latest exhibition at the Skoufa Gallery, Stella Meletopoulou proposes a restart. Using humble materials she redefines space. And from her personal files, those of memory and subconscious, she transforms the present putting forth a life proposal: from where we came to where we now live, everything can be re-composed ab initio. “How?”, we enquire.

Following you for many years (Human Geographies, Game of Threads, Invisible Threads), your work, as far as the materials are concerned but also as to the ideological framework, I would say investigates the signs, the coordinates and all those things that define the human condition, as it is run through by history, space and time. Each step appears to be the continuation of the one preceding it. What cogitation and what stimuli are hiding within your latest work and also the previous work?

I was always interested in expressing what I feel in my work. Now most particularly, as we have gone through a period during which I felt a break in the more carefree dimension of my life, along with a diffuse uncertainty, there was fertile ground, which gave rise to my new work. There is an internal process with which lines, marks, imprints on canvas talk as a result of a situation.

Your canvases could almost be abolished, the works could stand without them, as if they created directly on the white walls: Conceptual street art, small monuments to the now and the then, everywhere out and about in the city. Do you think they would operate in the same way from the point of view of the message they send?

Your question is really crucial. It’s something that has taken up my attention many times. I consider that certain of my works could stand equally well against a white wall in any place whatsoever, with the messages ringing out just as clearly.

Do you persist in using certain materials or do you constantly experiment by adding new ones? What are your favourites?

I love polyphony and marrying various materials together. I view it as a creative challenge. I am enthusiastic about everything new, I avoid any static quality that certain of my materials might express. Like a constant restart, which coincides with the deeper meaning of all I do. My basis for all of this are acrylics on canvas, threads of yarn and various kinds of paper. All the rest come and go in my work like welcome visitors.

I return to the cohesion of your work and will borrow the title of a film: What’s eating Stella Meletopoulou?

I think it is something deeper, which, if it is delineated by words, will lose its magic. I would place it in the field of my mindset and the lack of filters with all that’s happening around me. Painting liberates me and places me on far more optimistic paths. My works detoxify the mind.

As if you were doing the same work, as if, essentially, you were sharing with us the files and emotions of your personal life: lockdown, war, isolation, ruined relationships and crimes against nature. How much “darkness” or lack thereof is hiding in the Skoufa Gallery? And how much hope, in contrast with the gloom?

There is examination and thought, yes. But there is no pessimism and darkness. For me art is the only way to express my internal daydreams and my desires for an ideal world. Anyway, as Nietzsche asserted, we turn to art to deal with reality. Art alone can save us.