MARIA GIANNAKAKI: Dreaming in Ink…
Silk and rice paper. Watercolors and colored pencils. Asian technique, European influence… With each stroke, artist Maria Giannakaki brings beautiful dreams to life.
Maria Giannakaki began her studies at the Athens School of Fine Arts studying with artists P. Tetsi and G. Kolefa. In 1993, she went to China for post-graduate studies, learning techniques of traditional Chinese painting, ink drawing and calligraphy.
Her work is a unique blend of world influences – using materials and techniques she learned in China, to choosing subject matter that is centered on the human figure, often reminiscent of Gauguin or Chagall. Her work has been shown in Greece, China, Germany, Belgium, India, Italy, Luxemburg, Sweden and the USA.
We had an opportunity to speak with the artist whose works are currently on exhibit at the Oionos Gallery in Karditsa, Greece.
How did you get started as an artist?
I remember myself in elementary school, already to fill blank pages or making small ink sketches of famous portraits. It was my oasis, my escape from school. I remember before entering Fine Arts school, I made a promise to myself that I would be an artist, and always be one, even if I was forced to live under difficult circumstances…
What drew you to traditional Chinese painting?
I took a scholarship to China as an adventure. I was looking for postgraduate studies on techniques in painting and China has a long and rich tradition.
Frankly speaking, in the beginning it was difficult. I stayed three years and in the end I learned so many things, different from western theory and philosophy of art. I am also grateful to my Chinese masters for what and how they taught me.
You have had the chance to exhibit throughout Europe and Asia, is there one show that is particularly special to you? Why?
My first solo exhibition was in Beijing. I have also been in several group art shows throughout Europe, Beijing, Shanghai, and the New Delhi Triennale where I got the second prize.
My solo exhibition in Paris in 2007 was particularly special to me Paris, in a way, is still the artistic hub of the world. Rich in art museums and art history it is honor for an artist to exhibit in Paris or in New York, Berlin, and Los Angeles.
It was like a dream for me. I think it was the happiest moment of my life. I also had the chance to meet people well educated in art.
What inspires you? How do you choose your themes?
I would say my inspiration comes from everyday observation or memories. I believe it is important to preserve and keep our memories. l am afraid that one day people will live without memories…. (μνήμες)
For example we all know about Aegean Sea. Until now, the Aegean, for me, was deep blue, beautiful beaches, islands, but after the tragedy with the refugees, the meaning is not the same anymore. It was necessary for me to express, not transfer, the situation.
I also love the idea of a “child’s world”, even the theme of postures we take during a nap. Through all my work, my deep love of humanity is obvious, and how it is an endless source of inspiration.
If you could exhibit anywhere in the world, where would you like to see your art?
I want to see my art again in Paris, and would be interesting to see my art in California. I know of an open art market there and would be interesting to open and create a dialogue with the people there.
What are your thoughts on Greece’s place in the Contemporary Art movement?
I think it is difficult for Greece to have a place in contemporary movement and in the art market. Although today there are enough artists who are at the level and standard to see their art throughout Greece, our country is almost absent from the international art scene.
There are a few big Greek collectors, but even they invest in foreign artists, which often has nothing to do with quality.
I think that one reason is that Greece must face and evaluate its place in European arts. Greece has had an extensive, elaborate art history, based on significant cultural wealth that has developed through the centuries. But with it’s identity injured and the lack of education is difficult, it has become difficult to exist in the common area of European spirit.
To learn more, visit: www.mariagiannakaki.info and www.oionosgallery.com