‘s work has been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s in that they both execute colorfully layered paintings that operate at both minute and distanced viewpoints. But Stokou’s current show at Eigen + Art Lab
is memorable in that viewing her painted works is like an archaeological dig through our collective knowledge of recent popular culture, and involves delving in to the worries that come along with these topics.
Despina Stokou – installation view of “The royal we” (2014); courtesy of the artist and Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin, photo by Uwe Walter
The first noticeable trait of the exhibition, titled The royal we, is the harmonious color palettes of each painting — each one has a distinct tone and resulting mood that keeps the paintings from feeling redundant although they are all large-scale, vertically-oriented canvases. Abstracted objects and figures become visible when stepping backwards to look at the piece holistically. But what interests viewers the most is the scratched texts that overlap, running over each other in color and letters, making only snippets legible. The overall compulsion is to stand in front of a painting and decipher them one by one, yet one still enjoys the purely aesthetic aspect of each piece. In this way, the show statement seems correct, stating that “Despina Stokou’s works can be read as painting and installation at the same time.” And perhaps also can be considered as contemporary artifacts. The works command attention by translating the tornado of information that floods our consciousness, from recipes to internet jargon to the absurdity of yachts. How to separate what is important from what is fleeting?
The paintings can overwhelm in this way, with all of the scrawled font embodying the accelerated pace and volume of frustrations, insecurities, and thoughts that we experience. But rather than feeling frustrated, the visual allure of the paintings have a certain charm. We are moved, as always, to try and untangle the thoughts and information in front of us, reminding us that sometimes excess, though at times too much, can be a distraction in the best way.
EIGEN + ART LAB
The royal we – DESPINA STOKOU
Exhibition: Apr. 03 – May 10, 2013
Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule, Auguststraße 11-13 (click here for map)
Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2014.