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Marianna Katsoulidi
  -  Reviews   -  “Beyond the realm of Ego / Not me possessions”

All that I have got is what I have not” D.W. Winnicott

In the exhibition “Beyond the realm of Ego / Not me possessions” Marianna Katsoulidi, further to her previous art units, portrays work deeply personal and experiential, which seems to complete a circle of pondering over and negotiating universal issues. Relating comes to the fore through the depiction of toys, figurines, lifeless objects, most of which belong to the artist’s personal collection. M. Katsoulidi expands and explores, within limits of the canvas, the symbolic existence of Object-Toys, their relationships among them and their further course within the fictitious scope of Fantasy. Among the two-dimensional paintings, there is an installation of a mass of toys, which she created in 2009 and as she says, she goes back to, after years, to draw inspiration for new two-dimensional pictures, which are exhibited in this exhibition.
As if the heroes of her previous works have come of age, as if their relationships are tested, certain figures have remained, while for others this is a fare-well. New relations are established among the figures that characterize her work and are coated gradually with an environment that differentiates from her previous works. The pictures are embellished with the Objects, the toys, the figurines establishing multiple relations among them. Even, the Eternal, this No –Land that characterized her previous works, seems to be structured with elements which create a wrapping inside which countless interactions of the Objects occur.

I seek the face I had had before the world was created” W.B.Yeats
The artist consciously selects to artistically invest in specific figures, while the others are more abstractive, as if half-finished. Some figures have clear features while others look insubstantial, corroded by memory, still waiting to be completed by the viewer who could establish their final characteristics, leaning on them, reflecting themselves.
The objects that dominate the artist’s work bear symbolisms and statements to such a degree that they are prisoners of their cultural scope.
Nevertheless, there is an inconsistency. On the one hand, they bear solid meanings (the dresses, the costumes, the uniforms). On the other hand, the way the faces and the expressions are depicted by the artist liberates them from any emotional burden. Their vague expressions impart an odd sense and they look immaterial. So, the viewers themselves are asked to color the Objects according to their emotions and experiences, thus projecting all the aspects of their inner selves.
The unpredictable element of the game, is due to the fact that it is always on the hypothetical line between Subjective and Objective perception
W. D. Winnicott

From one point of view, we would say that Marianna Katsoulidi reinvents the world of the past, of the symbolic toy of early childhood, inviting the viewer to fantasize illusorily the fulfillment of unfulfilled wishes through her paintings.
The Objects release themselves from their original meaning, do not have the place of honor anymore, (everything becomes a matter of little significance).The signified distances from the signifier and dominates it. The artists herself as well as the viewers are able to build a “mythical Ego”, projected in the dominion of her work.
The choice of the title of the exhibition has clear reference points to the psychoanalytic method of W.D. Winnicott of transitional objects and phenomena. With the phrase “not me possessions” the basic but essential awareness of an object is expressed by the infant. This object is noticed for the first time as something different from itself.
Right there, in a transitional area between “inside” or “outside”, “Self” and the “Other” – all this is experienced as unfamiliar, strange, unknown- lies the beginning of a rather emotional relationship with the Object. It is the child’s first possession but at the same time no possession.
So, there is a paradox in this area of illusion of the intermediary experience between Self and Object which lies “beyond the realm of Ego”. The Self creates the object in the imagination, because it is needed, but the Object was there waiting to be used by the Subject. This inevitably leads the Object out of the area of the all-powerful control of the Subject, towards its recognition as an independent and autonomous entity.
Marianna Katsoulidi creates a microcosm in her works, starting with real objects charged with traces of childhood memories and the innocence of the past, shapes basically childish and youthful, lifeless objects that imitate the living, objects that breathe a sense of fragility and delicacy like their china counter-parts, thus creating a retro atmosphere that breathes nostalgia.
Objects from the past pose on the canvas, as if they are in a state of emotional pending, like a narrative inviting the viewer to emotionally invest in these objects. Looking at them one wonders what is happening, emotionally, to these objects, what is transpiring, what had happened before they became part of the works as a static depiction and what follows.
In the artist’s works, the objects look as if they have a life of their own, as if they belong to the world of otherness, of strangeness; yet, they seem as if they desire meeting the Other, as if they expect to be re-invented through the viewer’s day-dreaming. They seem to abandon their usable origin and through a mental shift they find their place in the sphere of symbolism. Quoting M.Milner’s words, “There is an eternal transformation of the object, which, at the same time, remains the same.”
Katsoulidi’s works are based on the sphere of transitional phenomena as an act of creation and concept. The heroes in her works already existed but they have been discovered by herself who now is inviting the viewer to meet them and invest in them, in a place where the objective meets reality in the borderline between Inside and Outside the Self and the Other, there, where the relationship is embodied and takes shape.

Isavella Kladaki
Art Theorist & Art Psychotherapist