Leda Contogiannopoulou

Contogiannopoulou Leda

She was born in Athens in 1971. She studied Painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Jannis Psychopedis (1995-2000) and attended haghiography painting classes for three years. She lives and works in Athens.

Works

Solo Exhibitions

2016

Ena Art Gallery Athens

2014

Painting 16 Fokionos Negri Athens

2011

Epsilon Art Gallery Thessaloniki

2010

Gavras Gallery Athens

2008

Gavras Gallery Athens

2007

Epsilon Art Gallery Thessaloniki

2006

Art Space 24 Athens

2000

Chyssothemis Art Gallery Chalandri

Press

Fantastical Displays for a Precious Painting

In the secret room of his house, the refined and solitary poet observed daily the rare, timeless and beautiful objects that his generous fortune had bestowed upon him for a lifetime. Behind a display case and under the spotlights, he had placed them carefully so that the personality of each acquisition would shine triumphantly, so that the aura of each treasure would radiate safely. There, in the theatre of his admiration, the paintings of Leda Contogiannopoulou conversed with ancient Egyptian cups, bracelets from Western kingdoms, music scores by famous composers, or butterflies from isolated islands…

In a part of my mind, I make up stories about painters. Like jewellers showcase their best pieces and museums certain distinctive creations, I imagine Leda’s work in luxury display cases. Those small – usually – painted surfaces, like precious stones, reflect as if by magic the light of a whole universe, where every thing depicted speaks two languages: a representational one, masterfully precise, and a ‘meta-physical’ one, which launches itself off the obvious to spring to concepts personal and exhilarating.

Through the ‘binoculars’ of her vision, like precision instruments for observation, “Leda the diver” jumps into the Ocean of detail and slowly brings up to the surface of the canvas endless elements that comprise the ‘genetic code’ of the seen and the unseen reality. Every colourful caress of her brush builds, ‘cell-by-cell’, a picture of things and of the air between them. With a painterly and delicate touch, Leda narrates the character of every object that ‘poses’ for her. She ‘talks’ about its shape, its volume, its radiance… She analyses its colour, its weight, its style… She ‘explains’ how a textile may be ‘in love’ with a porcelain, or how different forms and textures can ‘hang out’. And, with obvious love for the protagonists of her paintings, she expresses their temperature, their ‘pulse’, their ‘breathing’. In the studio, she sharpens her eye and her paintbrush on their confrontation with a simple, everyday reality, through which, however, she exhausts all visual possibilities. Thus, as a fan of the Flemish Masters, she paints the ‘mood’ of a bouquet in a vase, revealing with disarming finesse the secrets of the wildest of flowers. And when everything is dancing, talking, defending one another, upon the rhythm that emerges from their ‘meeting’, who can possibly talk of “still lifes”?

The work of Leda Contogiannopoulou does not freeze, in tasteful compositions, a given state of objects that charm or challenge her. Conversely, and in the measured way that characterises her, Leda imbues her compositions with a subtle metaphysical aura that removes them, ultimately, from the strict sense of representation itself. Beyond the glass bottles, porcelains, flowers, fabrics, spaces or even figures, her Art displays symbolic patterns and scents that elevate us, always with subtlety, to the personal dimensions of an Other, a place close to Fantasy with a familiar face. There, where hours do not correspond to consecutive moments, to measured minutes, to numbers… There where the mind – usually weighed down and tired by conformism, the commonplace and the crude – can float…. There where nothing is ever “still” or a “life”… There where, behind the gloss that – like a display case – protects the deep and fragile colours of an artwork as jewel, the soul of the artist as an aristocrat who wears it is revealed.

When the image of reality is distorted ever so slightly and makes fact look like dream, Leda’s brushstrokes quietly open the road for a stroll along the Threshold, the “kingdom in-between”. And her work, like precious maps, tell a story specific to everyone… A huge story in a coded and microscopic ‘painted text’ but written entirely in capital signs.

The poet loved his “Contogiannopoulou” so much that he wished he could have been a painter so he would have created them himself. Looking at one image after another, he would lose himself, sometimes, for half a day in the Daedalian construct of his fictions… And when the jealous windows finally darkened the space of the room, he would recall a phrase by Proust: “All days may be equal to a clock, but not to a man”, and he, himself, would add: “especially if he travels in the land of his treasures…”.

 

Marina Kanakaki
Art Historian – Museologist
* From the brochure of Leda Contogiannopoulou’s exhibition, Epsilon Art Gallery, Thessaloniki, 2007.