Maria Filippakopoulos’ own personal landmarks

Text for the solo exhibition Fields in Artshot Sophia Gaitani by the art historian  Louisa Karapidakis. November 2022, Athens.


Places unknown yet familiar. Soundless landscapes emerging out of a cold silence.  This is what Maria Flippakopoulos most recent set of pictures consists of (Fields, 2020-2022).


Her loci are landscapes of both memory and fantasy. Their identities and even their very names are not those of actual places, even though they might allude to them through their photorealistic qualities. Most commonly, they stem from places she has experience of, such as Elis, Arcadia, and various islands (from the Aegean, the Ionian and the Libyan Seas). She deals not only with sea and beach but also with briars; with both fertile plains and arid plots. Urban spaces are also very much in evidence; these are constructed from memory and carried to canvas as personal, idealised depictions. Human artifacts are very much in evidence, but actual human presence is not. There are aspects of buildings that have been put together eclectically, in the most individual of ways.


Her representations contain colours present in nature, especially those basking in light: cold blues, warm greens, flashing yellows, together with the more neutral tones of sand. These serve to bring out the eclecticism of her imagery, while bestowing a transcendent dimension to her compositions. In her own words: “I employ old-fashioned materials in my paintings, namely oil on canvas, in order to compose what, I hope, are contemporary images. Oil is a material which takes time to dry; it is alive and unsettled for days, and this allows me to intervene again and again. I avoid thick colours or pastes, but I do employ layering of colour. Layers are added until the colour attains the qualities I demand of it. Spreading colour over the canvas repeatedly is, for me, a meditative process”.


After the first feelings of surprise, the visitor is led by an ingenious combination of colour and topic to track the relation between the natural and the depicted sign. Again, in her own words: “My aim is for the viewer to be able to fashion his or her own narratives, to discover his or her own personal memory”.


There is an austerity in her visual modes of expression, but this is tempered by the unpretentious beauty of the places. Her unadorned lines accord with the rules of perspective and the natural proportions of volume. This only serves to transform the representations of Maria Flippakopoulos into poetical imagery, dispensing with photographic naturalism.


The formulations of her vision are highly personal and dislocated from time: “I aim to create images that are open to interpretation as regards time, space and the notions that accompany them”. Her Fields exude a unique kind of lyricism and contain vivid narratives. Thus, they encapsulate her ongoing striving for a visual simplicity that is stylised, post-modern yet also representational


Louiza Karapidakis, art historian