Maria Karametou ’s colored wall reliefs.. mix the devotional shrines and icons of her Greek Orthodox heritage, classical architectural details and scenes straight out of Freud’s “Interpretations of Dreams”. Garishly hued, these are unsettling tableaux.

“Icon” for example, is a small relief that resembles a temple entrance or stage. An empty-eyed baby doll’s face is sunk onto the pediment and surrounded by elaborate gilded leaves. This strange mask decorates the top of a tiny stage flanked by two elaborate columns. A tiger stalks a bleak painted landscape under the doll’s eerie “gaze”. Mixing scales and styles, Karametou poses a tantalizing puzzle- what fantasy unfolds here? What does the tiger signify? And is the doll a grotesque childhood memory, or a contemporary version of Homer and Tiresias, the blind seers?

 

        Lee Fleming, Art Critic, The Washington Post. “A Matter of Life and Depth”

 

 

“.. In Karametou’s best pieces, personal memories become mythologized as in “Self Portrait as Eleni: I Miss You, But You Won’t Be Back”, in which portrait and landscape become emblems of identity and loss. In “Full Moon”, the architectural motifs and narrative elements combine to suggest both real space and a mysterious dreamworld. With is small scale, magical imagery, deep, chalky blues and iridescent whites, the piece has an intimate, storybook quality that is quietly evocative.”

 

    Dorothy Valakos, The Alternative

 

 

“The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth”- Joseph Campbell

“The recent works of Maria Karametou are mixed media relief paintings of bits and pieces of ancient tales. Myths. But what myths? What story? The story of time and timelessness.

The story of secrets and search to reveal the secrets. The story that dwells deep inside the soul of all men through all time and beyond time into the dark abyss. The never ending story of the journey and the assurance that when the light goes out it will ignite again in the cyclical rhythm of the eternal. The story of change and the predictability of its’ sameness.

The story and journey of us all. The relief paintings look old, ancient, as if burnished by time. Worn. Clues to the story are everywhere. Karametou uses objects that interest and surround her by transforming them into ancient fragments from her memory to tell a personal tale. She combines these pieces of transformed objects into a unified whole to weave a path for ancestors to come again to tell the stories of their lives and thereby the stories of our lives. Karametou uses whatever means and materials are necessary to create her images. The materials are varied: wire, wood, wood putty, hydrocal, nails- whatever it takes to build the piece. She casts objects that interest her and that she feels will serve her purpose. But when the objects are cast, whether a candy mold, fossil, or her two-year old daughter’s body, Karametou reworks the cast to meet the unifying needs of her work. She uses found objects just as they are but uses them in such a way that they are sometimes unrecognizable, not because you can’t see them but because they are placed in an unexpected context. She reworks found objects, altering the material to meet the needs of the piece.

And sometimes she creates her own forms as in the case of “Idol”. In this wall relief, an ancient reptilian form lies silently in a crypt. The crypt is buried beneath a fragment of an arch, and buried in the arch are smiling faces looking out as witnesses to the sacrifice of the idol, and now, guarding with their presence its silent peace.

But was the idol sacrificed? Did this amorphous form give its life gladly for the perpetuation of life and thereby deserves the silent smiling guardians who attest to its act?

Or is there another story? Perhaps it’s the story of the fallen or tarnished idol, the giant of the child diminished by the wisdom of time – no longer the handsome hero. Who knows? Each of us will feel our own story as we search through the clues. But over the specific story there is a constant voice, a felt voice that tells a larger story. And this larger story prevails throughout all of Karametou’s work.

Karametou’s imagery speaks of the relics left behind through the stillness of the ages as a testament to the continuum of life. The collective dream. The private story. “

 

   Barbara Johnson, EyeWash

 
 
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