Elia Iliadi

Iliadi Elia
© Adam Cosgrove

Born in Athens. She attended a Foundation Course in Art & Design at Central Saint Martin’s London. In 2005, she graduated from Athens School of Fine Arts were she studied Painting under Dimitris Mytaras. From 2002 till 2005, she worked as an art teacher in the Chalkida Art Studio. In 2013 she performed at 16 Fokionos Negri her interactive work «Pandώra in Progress: The Yellow Session», part of her project «Pandώra», a complex installation of diverse art media. She lives and works in Athens.


Solo Exhibitions


I Bloom a Little More… Municipal Art Gallery of Kallithea Athens


Homo Materialis Athens Art Space – Mary Alexiou Athens


Black ink, like the dark blood of a poetic sacrifice, carves symbolic patterns into innocent surfaces, like a personal tribute. Women… Women unclothed, ‘split’ in two, black and white, cut up, with wild hair and arms raised… Women-mothers, women alone… Women who are searching, who no longer speak, who have not spoken yet. Women in motion. Motionless, closed female figures. Female lines. ‘Linear women’ in a frame. And Elia Iliadi walking among them…

And we, in turn, follow the mapped-out roads of her imagination. They take us to the free country where the boundaries of descriptive detail evaporate to become a female scent. Elia holds the key to the “Box of Essence”. That which does not contain expensive perfumes and gold trinkets. The Box as bomb that frightens the suspicious, angers the jealous, enrages the tyrants. The Box wherein, like a treasure, is kept the stolen “Become Yourself” elixir, and the flame that turns the incomplete map of the traditional female avenue, the ‘natural’, the ‘biological’, into ashes.

Elia’s black and white, frugal compositions, which are vaguely reminiscent of contemporary holy Icons, unravel a metaphorical “thank you”. A visual “thank you” to her unknown friends, who performed a painful intellectual ‘exercise’, jumping over every dead end to expand the field of their existence. Women-heroes. Heroic women. Inspired, enlightened… Elia feels grateful: “If I can paint freely today, I owe it to all those women who worked so we can be in the School of Fine Arts, so we’re entitled to a studio, to holding exhibitions without being locked up. So that we’re not forced to choose between black and white”.

She has no need for colour here. It was present in her previous work and now it is sleeping, letting the textures play its part. “Basically, I was so interested in the subject that colour was superfluous. Black and white, light and dark, they’re all the colours come together.” The same way that Bergman, using the intensity of light on the screen, colours his revolutionary, black-and-white Monika, a creature that is free, determined, uncompromising and supremely feminine.

Elia’s lines, too – they flow, sharp, assured, firm like the determination that always shines in her eyes. Like the distinctive tone of her voice. Like the ink she uses that cannot be removed with an eraser. The drawing either comes out first off, or it is broken up into a thousand pieces, without a second chance. Another battle, then. An artist’s risk, that the original grace, the expressive flutter and the fired-up mood for creation will be lost. “Of course, before I get to what you see, I’ve done five hundred sketches! I basically know the result I want.” But this task needs control, just like a dancer performing a difficult choreography that he knows inside out, and is still terrified of getting wrong.

In her own ‘choreography’, Elia abolishes the third dimension and thus forces our gaze to embrace her at first glance. Breast, eye, hand, head, all at once, send out their voices like emotions. At times, you can also hear bare trees. Their dried leaves fly away, following the birds, and sketch, here and there, the sky…

All those different sharp lines in the empty ‘theatre’ of a sheet of paper – the branches, the gestures, the hair, the expressions… – look, when seen together and from afar, like little stars that keep alight the signs of images, familiar to us all… Fragile paper lanterns of collective memory.


Marina Kanakaki
Art Historian – Museologist