Starting with new artworks by artists, that are on exhibition or are ready to exhibit or that are work in progress… we are visiting their studios, interacting with them and we present you this path. I met Ellie Griva for first time, in my own and her own beginning, we belong to the same generation. I watch her work and I always like the contrast that I am detecting in her artworks: the wild expressionistic writing to balance with a fragile desire to leave the space and time to the viewer, to enter into the gaps and the white, and discuss with him… This absolute feeling of freedom to create your own fairytale is incredibly charming…
By Efi Michalarou
Photo: Elli’s Griva Archive
Mrs. Griva your artworks involve intense narrative elements that seem autobiographical. Is it true? From what of your needs arises this scripture?
It is true, that my paintings are having their roots in experiencial process.
My feelings are my compass for the world and for what we use to call “Reality”. Based on my feelings, as those are growing through time, I start painting and “bring” to three-dimension world, that, what means the most to me. And that is, how I feel. Using this procedure, the whole concept is based primitively, on inner shafts, which are “translated” to something new, which can be communicated. My art, “is coming”, from my needness to communicate and have contact with the “Other”. Ma-Zei (not a real word, but a word maded by me, meaning TOGETHERNESS, as a verb) is what means the most to me.
The colors in combination with an expressionistic writing, but with a lot white on the canvas, create a world, which refers to graffiti, you think to move your artworks from the canvas to the wall?
Graffiti, as the kind of art, that is free and released to the public, is something, that, I do interesting about, very much. One street, one wall, is a canvas, which is exposed to everyone, without any other mediation. The Graffiti art, is mainly “constructed” by the free needness of communication (money in this situation does not matter). These elements of Graffiti art, concerns me a lot and they look very appealing to me. Considering all these, yes, my paintings could be easily ‘’transported’’ to the wall. To “turn” them, to a graffiti. That whole concept is something I did once, in 2007, at Gazi, in Athens, with a performance called: ‘’ I WANT YOU’’.
We observe that all your artworks have titles and each has its own concept, how important is it for you? The concept precedes of drawing and painting, is the context?
In my work, Words and Meanings are having the same force and the same weight in my soul and in canvas also, as the forms and the color. Many times, I disrupt a word, in many different points on the canvas. I do that, because, this way, the significal word, has a certain “magical” meaning for me, that is why I choose it and then, during this procedure it transformed to a form too. For example, this way, an “a” is still a letter or maybe a small head… There is no framework. Usually, words and paintings are getting birth, together.
We know that are engaged in illustration too, for this and in your work, we notice that besides the common concept or conceptual axis that joins them can operate as independent stories, Is that true?
The “independence” of a painting, is an open road, straight to the heart. This function in the same way, whether it is a painting for a book or a painting without “subtitles”… Yes, in my solo exhibitions and in the books that I paint the pictures too, there is a basic concept that function as the thread, which give us a general direction. Although this thread exists, we can, any time, cut it and stand in front of the painting by ourselves. Without references to the past. The language, written and oral, is the first way of approaching of the world and helps a lot, but it is better not to become a cliché. Independence is also necessary for the words too. For example, the sentence: “I love you”, doesn’t need, neither explanations, nor paintings or pictures. The same happens with one spill or a whole painting.
You have created Home Gallery, which is an open studio and there you exhibit your artworks and call the art lovers to see them. While working with Galleries and participate in group exhibitions, how came this idea and how easy it is for the artist to show his work and guide people in the area?
I “created” the HOME GALLERY PROJECT, because I had a strong feeling and a strong needness for expression and communication. Considering the latest economical crisis, I felt, that I needed a closer, more intimate contact, with the people who love my paintings. I think that many people, including myself, are feeling warmer in a more “homy” place, where art is exposed, as something that coming with our routine, every day, like something that exists, to comfort them, to hug them. I believe that, this certain feeling, grows more easily in a place, which is not strictly made, for exposing art, as galleries are. For me, those two places, the art studio of the artist and the gallery, are not opposites, but they can function perfectly as a collaboration. The art studio has this specific atmosphere, that is easier to have a connection with the art and galleries know how, they can promote art better and find new “customers” that are interested in buying art. A well-programmed collaboration of these two “forces”, it could be brought a new time, of presenting and buying art. About living in the same place, where my whole work is exposed, I must say, that, yes, there is a difficulty. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with too many paintings and other times, I cannot stand a minute more, the energy of the people in my place. That makes me feel fragile and vulnerable many times… But, at the end, I have always in my heart and in my mind, that I am an artist and that means first of all, that, I do am exposed. Therefore, I hug this feeling, concluding both the “good and the bad ways of it”, I move on…
In your latest works, we see that blue enters increasingly in the white canvas, creating the sensation of blue ink on paper, it looks like a note, this is your goal?
These paintings are new-borned, I called them “BLUE BOAT or YELLOW DRAGON / BLUE KISS” and they had, as a soundtrack Bach. Yes, I could easily said, that they are “notes” and integrated paintings at the same time. What seems to me more interesting is the way I use the blue color here. Blue, is a color very strong and powerful, I have never used it, the way I do here. I mean in a paper, without any other colors, except this one, the white color of the paper and the black… I really don’t know, where this “BLUE BOAT+YELLOW DRAGON+BLUE KISS” is going… many times, I swim next to it, others, I am a passenger on it, sometimes I wave from the land… and not many, but they exist, I abandon it. I make it as small as a cookie and I swallow it, most of the times, I transformed it to spaceship and we go through galaxies together… ‘’Huston!!! Do you read me???’’
*Elli Griva was born in Thessaloniki, lives and works in Athens. Originally passed in the Law School of Thessaloniki, where she studied for 3 years and in 1994, passed 1st with Scholarship at the Athens School of Fine Arts. For her art is a way to communicate and connect, to draw and to dream, to offer and to create the new. She loves words, and paintings. She takes a space and changes it totally. She makes paintings environments in the sense that transforms them into spaces for her feelings. She has important collaborations with the Galleries: “New Forms” and “Astrolavos”, she has made 13 solo exhibitions and has participated in many group exhibitions and in the “Art Athina”. Two poetry collections have been published: “49 Painted Poems” and “11+ – /. A Love Story in the Intermediate Time”, she has also illustrated several books.