Review by Hera Papapostolou, Art Historian & Critic

Aurora Borealis II, Solo Exhibition, Naxos, Greece

Milena Dimitrokallis works directly on the canvas, without a rough sketch. Often she creates the first layers by brush and then uses a painting knife and techniques such as scraping and, many times, dripping.  Bright colours and a variety of abstract and geometric shapes seem to flood the canvas at first sight. Freely drawn lines suggest passion, motion and life. But a closer look at her works reveals silhouettes, abstract figures with strength and rhythm, with an emphasis on the spontaneous expression of feeling. The painting can be read as a self-contained, aniconic plane with occasional allusions to the real. 

Her work is characterized by a tendency toward abstraction, the expressive power of colours and the expressionist quality of the painting as a whole.  The brushstrokes, forms, colour and texture of the materials in her work move the spectator deeply and at the same time express the painter’s emotions and inner perspective.  Her treatment of a theme is anything but conventional and the function of colour and brushstroke completely liberated, as per the Expressionist norm. Her works constitute bold and free compositions dominated by a gestural script, thick paint and high-intensity chromatic relations: red, yellow, blue, green. 

The painter’s primary creative goal is to portray her emotional relation to the painting surface and her means of creative expression. There is no apparent representational objective; the intensity and unbridled treatment of colour gives the viewer the feeling that the canvas is a space on which the artist maps her inner emotional world.  The explosive power of her gestural script is a distinguishing feature of the artist. Her canvas is transformed into a field of action that highlights the process of painting and the motion of the artist’s hand, with its free and seemingly random—but always self-controlled—strokes. Intense, powerful lines rise up as if from within the soul, bringing to light the release of a hidden introspective adventure. The light is assimilated into the paint. The end result is a courageous statement of artistic freedom. 

The artist says: “When I paint, I am impulsive. I am interested in painting what I feel, not what I see. To me, the canvas is a space in which my mind can be totally free. The more I paint, the more I explore my mind, discover it, love it, and set it free. I create my works directly on the canvas, without a prior rough sketch, guided by purely exploratory processes. One might say abstract painting is my way for searching my soul and rendering human emotions through colours, shapes and an array of techniques. I prefer working with large formats because it allows me to become one with the colours and shapes and to directly depict my emotions.”

Hera Papapostolou, Art Historian & Critic

(The review was published in the catalogue on the occasion of the solo exhibition “Aurora Borealis II”, at the Castle of Naxos, Greece, in August 2014.)

Review by Hera Papapostolou, Art Historian & Critic

Chaos and Harmony, Solo Exhibition, Athens, Greece

Most people are terrified of out-of-control, chaotic situations. Milena Dimitrokallis, however, sees in chaos the deepest meaning of creative harmony. It is her aesthetics that dictate what is harmonious and what not, what order and orderliness mean. Chaos is an inspiration to the painter and she knows how to capture it, partake in it and embrace it, in much the same way that a poet, a musician or a writer embraces his or her creation.

In fact, the painting of Milena Dimitrokallis is a lot like music, thus expanding the scope of the visual language. It has the same power as music. It stems from an inner necessity, and colour—the absolutely true element of painting—is the key that opens the gate to her inner world.

Blue, yellow, red, green, orange, purple.  Each colour a distinct emotion: love, happiness, passion, serenity, completeness, trust, affection, fear, anger, surprise, sadness. Each colour a musical note in the vast music of the universe.

A lively discourse is taking place between the artist and the spectator: the latter is receiving the vibrations of each painting, enjoying the colour and sensing the painter's emotional state, but also creating his or her own complex, subjective, conscious experience, feeling euphoria, awe, vitality, harmony, or even relief. The spectator is deeply moved by the expressionist character of the paintings, as well as their abstractive tendencies; the expressive power of colours and their unruly handling; the liberated brushstroke and the texture of the material; the forms and gestural script of the painter. And, thus, the painter's introspective adventure finds fulfilment in reciprocation.

Unconventional in the negotiation of her themes, Milena Dimitrokallis heeds chaos and harmony—elements inherent in nature—and translates them into powerful emotions.

What she seeks to accomplish is to highlight the interaction between chaos and harmony in our emotional world and explain how it contributes to the creation of abstract forms and shapes, which express its beauty and truth. Her guide in this process is self-knowledge, a difficult but creative and necessary prerequisite for the deeper knowledge of our emotions, at times serving to guide us and, at other times, to mislead us.

The set of paintings should not be seen as a whole, since each painting is autonomous. This is inferred by both the titles given to each painting by the painter and the distinct emotions described. Viewers heed the colours and leave the exhibition richer in emotional experience.

Hera Papapostolou, Art Historian & Critic

(The review was published in the catalogue on the occasion of the solo exhibition “Chaos and Harmony”, at Peritechnon Gallery, Athens, on May 2016.)

Review by Apostolos Ziogas, Biologist

Chaos and Harmony II, Solo Exhibition, Mykonos, Greece

“When our conscience is rid of the habit to see in paintings the depiction of landscapes, Madonnas and shameless Venuses, then we shall see the pure painted work.” – Kazimir Malevich

Having been awarded at international competitions, painter Milena Dimitrokallis is holding the solo exhibition Chaos and Harmony this summer on the island of Mykonos. The talented artist paints what she feels rather than what she sees; her works, however, being classified as abstract, serve to specify that, which each spectator is carrying inside him or her. Thus, for the sake of a peculiarly expressive exaltation, she breaches forms in order to sail freely between Chaos and Harmony.

Using the free form, and more specifically the technique of action painting, the artist presents, without explaining, representing or mimicking, the model of the ideal coupling between Chaos and Harmony. Lacking the pachydermatous rationale that tends to see everything physio-logically, she wishes to capture the energy of the new beauty emanating from the dipole Chaos–Harmony: this is Milena’s sole preoccupation. She seems to address us “like a cat across the rug; softly but not with contempt”[1]. Expressionist in style, she has learned to delicately outline onto the canvas the being in the raw; she colors the surfaces until they harmoniously explode, helping us comprehend “the extent to which the invisibility of the visible is invisible”[2]. While dominated by a gossamer sparkle, Milena’s colour illustrates the inner need that lies at the core of her works. Certainly, her chaotic mixture of colors is gestating aesthetic warmth by way of harmony, indeed by contrast to the prevalent impression that her colors are as if about to surge out onto the horrific state of affairs. 

Essentially, this is an art that is abstract via a miscellany of color; an art that records the creative process in the form of a struggle or of absolute serenity; an art, in fact, which, one might say, displays an intellectual proximity to the thought of Dalí, while also adopting the Empedoclean notion asserting, “at one time all uniting into one from Love, while at another each is torn apart by hate-filled Strife”[3]; in other words, Milena’s brushstroke steps away from the boredom of the predetermined and out into the freshness of the innovative.

Beyond common taste and socially emancipated, each work evokes a commentary on the establishment, fertilely transubstantiating the incessant experience of intuitive perception that is characteristic of its creator; each work eludes the deadlock of the Ideal, leaning towards artful complexity. Each painting’s plasticity demonstrates a disruption of integrity, on one hand, and a subcutaneous symmetry, on the other — the subconscious forms presented to us neither serve any functional purpose nor provide any clear “an‑swers” [from old English and-against], thus also paradoxically verifying Malevich’s aphorism that, “any painting surface is more alive than any face with a pair of eyes and a smile”; yet, at the same time, since anything visible is impossible to be seen truly and in depth, the inwardness of each surface covers up anything real.

Now in Mykonos, attempting to ecstatically hydrate her canvas, Milena Dimitrokallis aspires to become that raw force that is able to generate images within others. In the modern labyrinthine reality, in which we are called upon to survive, the artist, as seen through the eyes of Milena Dimitrokallis, “will not be a sewer worker, but a pipe layer in a comfortable new Babel”[4]!

Apostolos Ziogas, Biologis

  1. Charles Bukowski, Hot Water Music.
  2. Michel Foucault, The Thought from Outside.
  3. Empedocles, On Nature, lines 239-40: Ἄλλοτε μὲν Φιλότητι συνερχόμεν ᾿ εἰς ἓν ἅπαντα/ ἅλλοτε d ᾿ αὖ δίχ ᾿ , φορεύμενα Νείκεος ἔχθει (English translation from R. Janko, “Empedocles, On Nature I 233–364”)
  4. Walter Benjamin, “A State Monopoly on Pornography” (trnsl. Rodney Livingstone)

(The review was published in the digital magazine Fractal - The Geometry of Ideas, in June 2016, in light of Milena Dimitrokallis’s solo exhibition “Chaos and Harmony II” in Spyral Gallery, Mykonos.)

Review by Hera Papapostolou, Art Historian & Critic

Light, Solo Exhibition, Naxos, Greece

In her latest work, Milena Dimitrokallis changes colour scheme. Departing from the cool colours, she chooses to work with warmer ones and make much greater use of white. This is a conscious shift as the artist aims to speak to the viewer about man’s inner light. This light symbolizes none other than each one’s soul, which is directly connected with the universe, and each one’s course, which he or she is called upon to follow in this world. This light is the luminous path of each one of us; and, once we discover it, we cannot but pass its light on to those around us. It is our emotion or, differently put, what people call “love.” This thought process and attitude towards life spawns works, such as “Light,” “As Free as the Ocean,” “Spiritual Spring,” “Live in the Sunshine,” etc. And, indeed, looking at the works of Milena Dimitrokallis, the viewer sees meadows of wildflowers, seas, summers, and sunrays. He sees the bright side of his own soul that can be expressed through the colours of the sky on a warm summer day, of the sun when it shines, of the tamed sea and the whole of nature at the advent of spring. Red, yellow, blue, pink, green, orange. It’s all there, in her works, as a hymn to Light, which is also the true side of life.

The artist says: “Light. Symbol of truth. Awakening. The true colours of the Self. Reconnection with the universe. Inner peace and beauty that radiates and illuminates our path with its delicate aura. Once we become aware of our personal luminous path and attune ourselves to it, then the miracles begin. Powers hitherto unknown are unleashed inside us. We discover our Self and make peace with it. We become more peaceful. A feeling of completeness warms and liberates our soul. We are all integrated in this cosmic rhythm that is unaffected by the advancements of technology or the fast pace of society. We are reminded of it by the magic of a child's laughter, the splendor of a sunset, the star-studded sky. The deeper we delve into the Self, the deeper we can see into the Essence of the Other, appreciate the substance of life, and give love.”

Hera Papapostolou, Art Historian & Critic

(The review was published in the catalogue on the occasion of the solo exhibition “Light”, at the Ursuline School, Naxos Castle, on July 2017.)

Review by Leontios Petmezas, Art Historian & Critic

Hues of Skies and Seas, Solo Exhibition, Paros, Greece

Art historian Leontios Petmezas comments on the dynamics of the painter's works and on her personal style in the 14 July 2018 issue of newspaper O Logos. Below is an excerpt of his review:

“Far from the morphological chaos of the urban landscape, the artist is presenting remarkable compositions that captivate the eye with their vividness of color, the sensitivity of their drawing and the freshness involved in their inspiration… Character, references to modern deviation, the treatise of timeless concepts and the passion in their discourse are the building blocks of the artist's testimony… At the same time placing an unbidden emphasis on quality, the artist is generating, on grounds of said quality, an aesthetic and intellectual resistance against the subservience and shallowness of our times.  Manifesting a breadth of mind, the paintings comprising the present visual statement encompass a profound awareness and deep appreciation of values and concepts such as nature and the environment in which we all belong—our actions, our responsibilities, our memories and our attitudes…

In this way, the artist's works offer viewers the incentive to reflect, sparking questions and questioning, calling upon them to go beyond ‘good intentions’ and genuinely ponder on how to tackle the conundrums of taking on the requisite responsibility and necessary action.  A part of the exhibition consists of a section, which discreetly affords justice to the plasticity of the drawing lines while emphatically addressing the particular stylization, endowing it with a regeneration of form… [The artist] is recording in an emblematic manner the transubstantiations of plausible fundamental stimuli, which border on transcendental osmoses and interweave a ritual that is gradually interpreted and reinforced as a manifestation of her personal "peripeteia".  Featuring a pervasive aura of invocation, the paintings of Milena Dimitrokallis commandingly convey an extraordinary semantics that envelopes inseparably the imaginative infinite ecstasy and claims a precise place in the history of Modern Art.”

Leontios Petmezas, Art Historian & Critic

(The review was published in Logos Newspaper on the occasion of the solo exhibition “Hues of Skies and Seas”, at Two's in Paros, Greece, in July 2018.)

 

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