“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.” (W.H. Auden).
And this is what Marianna Katsoulidi does. She throws herself, and everything she loves, into her work. Since she was young, she used to collect and observe toys. Some of the toys became her models for the “Human Toys” project.
A project that is now 10 years old: these years were defined by an economic crisis that began in 2011 and will continue in 2021.
She chooses the protagonists carefully, just like she chooses where to place them: on the verge of the painting, as if they are about to dive into the sea of reality, as if they are part of life. Or maybe they are. Do they look like us?
The toys in her paintings become something else, they move away from their original size and they play roles. We would say that they are like totems: toys-symbols that are loaded with dual meanings, the meaning of childhood but also the meaning of violence, the meaning of worship and at the same time the meaning of atheism. The viewer does not look at them from a distance but coexists with them. These toys look like the dolls of Polanski’s “Lampa” (1959). On the outside they seem to have no soul; they are ready to be repaired and are waiting for a child to play with them. On the inside they are longing patiently for the fire that is going to save them from their limited purpose. They are not just toys; they are an identity.
The artist has a different approach to life and playfully “winks” at us. She wonders whether humans “are nothing but toys in the hands of an older child”. After all, don’t we think alike during Christmas and as we leave one more year behind and move forward into the next one?