Press release: Mantalina Psoma eerily quiet

Exhibition opening: Friday, 14 February 2014, 18:00-22:00
Exhibition : until 26 April 2014

In her paintings, Mantalina Psoma shows fleeting moments which, quite often, appear familiar to the viewer. Her pictures are reminiscent of photographs or film stills, drawn in a realistic style of painting. Mantalina Psoma deliberately chooses realism as a form of expression and lists painters such as Gerhard Richter, David Hockney or Edward Hopper as her influences, above all, however, the old masters from Van Eyck and Vermeer through to Velasquez and Degas.

She selects her motifs from the pool of everyday media presence; her digital archive contains pictures of nature as well as those featuring interiors, photo albums, cinema films and magazines. The real work, however, takes place when she translates them into paintings. Although, as individual images, they are detached from the epic form, Psoma's paintings nonetheless always contain an intimation of narrative. They take on the appearance of related actions which, for their part, are not manifest but rather can only be guessed or assumed. This is particularly apparent in the series “The Removal” which seems to depict an ongoing narrative. The individual image sequences, though, only inspire us to reflect; it is up to the viewers themselves to combine them into a story.

At the centre of the exhibition eerily quiet are three large-format pictures of girls and young women. They are always delicately executed portraits whose presence, at first glance, seems to be characterised by an almost childlike innocence. Yet underneath the pretty surface, in the ostensible calm of those depicted, there is something deeply troubling which generates an atmosphere of tension in the surrounding spaces. In particular the invasive gaze of the portrayed female protagonists who observe us so openly, in combination with their outward calm, generates something profoundly threatening. Inevitably we are forced to ponder the context inhabited by the figures.

In her paintings Mantalina Psoma manages to characterise existential moments and emotional, psychological borderline situations whose factual content remains in limbo. Through this she creates a balancing act between reality and fiction, intimacy and distance, between serenity and irritation.

Mantalina Psoma was born in Athens, Greece in 1967. Between 1985 and 1992 she studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, where she graduated as a master student of Bergmann and Boemmels.

Today, she is one of the most renowned contemporary painters in Greece.