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Eleni Dori

Tiziana Conti

  The eighties reproposed the necessity of
a pictorial culture, as the American philosopher
Arthur C. Danto clearly states.
He examines the return of painting on the artistic
scene in the light of a "refined post-modernist
On one side a path is opened towards a decisive
figuration which, after a long period of default,
seeks alternative routes by recuperating pictorial
On the other side, abstract painting, defined
by Clement Greenberg as the "inevitability of history",
demands to be no longer identified with purity or
with analytical and aseptic rigour.
Both sides, therefore, reject stereotypical
connotations: the figure attempts to draw from
the wholeness of existence while abstraction repels
the ghost of clarity and geometric formality.
Thanks to these "dismissals" a new painting has been
developed which moves its principles towards soft
frontiers and substitutes the sterile
dichotomies with a dialectic conception which fades
their outlines.
In this pictorial environment, structured on
complementarity rather than conflict, is positioned
Eleni Dori’s research.
The starting point is the everyday object.
In her first paintings during the eighties, she deals
mainly with objects taken from the environmental
context such as windsocks used in airports or saws
used in factories.
  These matrices converge into a research which
requests a dynamic context, with clear connotations,
interweaved with synestesias and chromatic impastos.
The canvas is often of large format, almost as if the
painting wishes to invade space and find a breath in
the universe.
Colour is never chosen beforehand: it grows with
slow layers and at the end the whole surface
is covered by a "veil" which in parts seems to come
off to reveal the traces of an indelible origination.
The painting retains in itself the žow of time and
of events, a patina of the antique, images that seem
to vanish unexpectedly and be reborn in
a reflection of suggestions and a glare of lights.
Outlines seem at times to emerge, at other times to
disappear;objects become part of an iconography now
rareŽed and then thickened, going beyond representation,
projecting themselves towards an open horizon, in
order to construct an archaeology of spirit and memory.
Separations are recomposed, suspended by a thread that
manages to bring out the metamorphic instability of the
reality through the transformation of the signs which
"go over" the canvas.
Perceptively the painting has a balanced composition;
the figurations,free from the ties with analytical logic,
are "light", and appear to dance on the canvas; the
details transmit and communicate vibrations,
without disguises.
  In this proposition, however, there is no
demystifying intention or wish to
indict fetishism or conformism.
There is no more concern with an art
which intends to emphasise everyday obsessions.
The object is rather considered as a primary
element which becomes "curious" since it
reminds us of something other than itself.
Looking at it carefully,the object is an open
form which determines a chain reaction of
metamorphic states; beneath its appearance one
can see, repeating Max Bense’s words, a different
"reality" that is pictorially evidenced
by lines, contours or shadows which widen its
Deviations, shifts, jumps, create at the
completion of the painting process a structure
entirely different from the initial one,although
the distinctive character of uniqueness
still remains.
Dori singles out in the object an internal
life which allows it to be regenerated; she
puts forward a kind of a recurrent skeleton-form,
the cylinder, a geometric form which is characterised,
apart from its equilibrium and harmony, by stability
but which can also be manipulated and elaborated in
an infinite game of combinations and postures.
In that way painting acquires the faculty to
suggest rather than to define,leaving plenty
of space to imagerie, overcoming the ambiguities
and the flatness of habit.
  The object, liberated from its "thingness" becomes
absolute in a dimension where silence, as the poet
Paul Celan asserts,is a non-pronounced word.
Here the ghosts of the everyday are exorcised, one
remains listening between desire and amazement.
Reverberating presences.
It is as if Dori wishes to suggest that there exists
a secret -and joyful- life in things: one needs only
to let it flow not to make it conventional.
The work lays between the discovered and the invented,
actual and at the same time archaic.
The group of paintings presented in this exhibition
is centred in the theme of antique furniture.
The starting point is the object as it is
presented in photographic reproductions in magazines
or catalogues of the kind: it is selected, however,
on the basis of precise characteristics.
It is always furniture of high commercial value, so
elaborated as to become redundant, even mannered.
They become the pretext for a pictorial režection:
they are put back into their context
and are emphasised through modifications aiming to
underline their most conspicuous characteristics.
For instance, a travelling desk (Scrivania da viaggio)
provides the opportunity for four paintings which, by
their titles, show an attitude towards an operation both
pictorial and semantic: the desk is transformed from
time to time into Scarpiera da viaggio,Cultura da
viaggio,Pittura da viaggio,Cilindri da viaggio
  The image does not undergo a process leading
to the loss of its context but, on the contrary,
it immaterialises, becoming evident only by its
outlines, being crossed by memories and oblique,
asymmetric, references.
The shadow becomes the alter ego of the form, its
enigmatic and unexpressed double.
The narrative frame extends in a free space where
the pictorial language is continuously reformulated.
All is evident and yet mysterious, real but indefinite.
Painting is revealed as an adhesive material capable
of an evocative "story-telling", always remaining on
the border line between the definition of the image
and the concept, between narrative and contingency.
Such an approach towards reality is probably also
influenced by the confrontation of the artist with
cultures of various countries,the messianic classicism
of Greece (her country of origin), the peculiar mixture
of aesthetics and ethics of England (where she studied
and worked) and the crucible of the Apollonian and
Dionysian of Italy (where she lives today).
            The four titles, ironically, shift the emphasis towards
a range of possibilities linked with the theme of travel
"within" which the original object is metamorphosed,
loosing -or rather emphasising?-
its character of precious futility.
Dori’s painting is a "progressive painting" which
generates a complex visual phenomenology.
It seems to be asking the observer to move around
it and inside it without ever pretendind to exhaust it.
In fact, looking for certainties at any cost, would
effectively mean interrupting the call of the myriad of
signs which link our feeling with the creative process.

Tiziana Conti
      En Plein Air