15 Dec VASSILIKI ATHENA VAYENOU – Art Historian
“In her monochromatic landscapes with tall buildings, churches, houses and boats as well as those in black-and-white, one can discern a strong spirit of subtraction, which helps him/her to re-evaluate the dynamic of the cone, the cube, the circle and the cylinder as fundamental forms. The result is unadorned and austere and transmits intact the enduring essence of the landscape. Without utterly “breaking to pieces” and deconstructing the elements of the scenery, the latter are executed in a summated manner that places them effectively in space and time, rendering them universal and perennial. These landscapes, either seen as sketchy scene-paintings or eternal static structures, balance masterly between the geometricality of the line and the singularity of the colour’s choice.
The single-coloured figures of Alice Tournikioti create associations with medieval angels who play musical instruments, sweet-voiced exotic beauties of primitive tribes, images of wandering musicians with a vacant stare who are already “lost” in the ecstasy of music, and surpass a mere characterization as creatures of the painter’s imagination, obtaining their own entity and blurring the boundaries between art and reality.
The golden tone of the ochre, which brings to mind the Byzantine preference for the specific colour, is used as a base for the symbolism, the transcendental character and the peculiar charm exuberated by the musicians. The colour has been often applied uniformly on the entire surface of the canvas, allowing the drawing and its outline to define the figures, while the play of the light and shadow is conveyed by thin lines that create a sense of volume and texture. This refusal of colour, and the refined alternation of the light and dark tones underscore on the one hand the relations between the different elements and their rhythm, on the other hand eliminate the emotional charge and the allusions of erotic call with which the musical instruments have been traditionally associated in art. The positions and the fashioning of the bodies “hide” behind their simplicity the sensitivity and the technical ability of the painter. The frontality of some figures lends them an almost ritual character, while the naturalness displayed by others rouses our interest exactly because they have not been treated in a naturalistic manner. The paintings that depict musicians emit potent atmospherical aspects and a spiritual transcendence, and initiate the viewer imaginarily into the joy and harmony of music.
The works in charcoal on paper seem to constitute a special category in the painter’s artistic production who again chooses here the “classical” subject matters, the portraits and the whole-bodied figures, the Interiors and the “natures mortes”. Whether these are drawings that serve as basis for consequent paintings or comprise autonomous works, they are distinguished by immediacy and instinct, and are governed by a “visual rationale” that is based on a powerfully geometrical element. The distinctive vertical and horizontal lines intersect, separate and connect endlessly the pieces of a reality that derives from a truly primary component. The accurate recording of the natural light’s play to create the illusion of volume does not constitute an immediate concern for the artist, who adopts instead the technique of the gradation of the tones of the black and the white, a quality that is inherent in the charcoal as a medium. The black and the white colour and their multiple hues set off the vigour of the drawing and provoke a parallel fluctuation of emotions. Through her loving relation to nature and her constant, in-depth observation of flowers, trees and their foliage, Alice Tournikioti succeeds in bringing nature close to us without treating this subject in a naturalistic manner, but by conveying the idea, the very essence of nature, drawing on her personal, subconscious images of her: the combination of the colours, the harmony created by even the boldest chromatic contrasts, and the sensation of the sweet smell of the flowers and the fruits that decorate the Interiors, render her views of nature a divine presence that invites the viewer into her arms, offering him/her her warmth without leaving though any room for the violation of her sanctity.
By recording the moment, the chance given by a brief flash of time when the painter’s female figures softly tilt their heads or move their hands indolently, Alice Tournikioti manages to “bottle” timelessness: her vividly coloured female figures who on some occasions seem to gladly pose for the viewer’s pleasure, while other times face him/her straight in the eyes or retreat melancholically into their world, are always there, in front of us, women of the past, the present and the future. The sparkling brushstroke, the explosion of emotions, the sharp contrasts of the cold and warm hues, the forcefulness of the colours and the form, all bring to mind the basic expressive means of post-impressionism, expressionism and fauvism, which have been transformed though in the hands of Alice Tournikioti into an eclectic, personal artistic style that carries the viewer away into life’s dashing rhythm, and denotes the unattainable of the metaphysical, the truth dwelling in nature and the eternally spiritual and erotic.
Guided by a strain for perpetual experimentation, the search for solutions to her conjectural speculations and concerns, and her wish and daring for expression without limitations, Alice Tournikioti’s works continue to reveal her explosive temperament and to follow an evolutionary course of life, that of the painter’s own.”