Despina Stokou


Despina Stokou’s works scrutinise the validity of media information, which the artist locates in the context of paintings. Stokou uses collages, her favourite medium, to analyse the relevance of painting as an original format of artistic production, on the one hand, and the correlation of this age-old artistic medium to the actual and digital space, on the other. The actual space of the exhibition is extended through installations which do not necessarily bind the panel paintings to the wall mountings, but rather allow for a haptic perception of the works with all their materiality. Stokou’s work thus escapes being classified a priori into a specific media category.

The artist uses the digital space alias Google to source her texts which she incorporates in a modified form onto the painting surface and thus into the picture space, using individual letters which cannot always be decoded as words. Stokou combines paint and paper as primary materials, overlays them and puts them together in expressive compositions. She thus creates an amalgam of text surfaces which address today’s modalities of surfing the Internet and loss of control over information, on the one hand, and the desire for information, on the other. Just as the virtual space of the Internet seems to generate a three-dimensionality consisting of images and texts, Stokou too uses a two-dimensional medium – the newspaper – to extract text fragments and letter combinations and integrate them into the painting surface. She also uses blogs and e-mail conversations as sources for her collages. Depending on her geographical whereabouts, Stokou analyses current issues and processes them in her vibrant and expressive pictorial and textual worlds.

The Berlin-based Greek artist, who also works as a curator, has an ongoing interest in display-related issues. This aspect plays an integral role in the presentation of her painting collages and is also reflected in her current exhibition at the Krobath Gallery, where the artist organises her works in varying arrangements to create a spatial assemblage. One of her works features the word “ingredients” in large letters. This statement can be interpreted paradigmatically as the multifarious sources and methods Stokou draws on to create her works. She also integrates small photographs, some with a pornographic touch, into the masses of colour and text. Whether a male or female nude, the various references question gender-oriented points of view and try to dismantle them in the creative context of painting and textual expression.

Stokou thus offers viewers a possible universe of image and text, which can also be viewed as a reference to the various forms of reality. Another painting features “suggested reading”: here, within the context of the humanities, the artist hints at potential layers of reality and texts. They intertwine and disperse once again, giving viewers a wealth of information and offering them the possibility of using the “ingredients” to assemble their own “bricolage” of interpretations of reality.

The moment of immediacy is clearly tangible in those works where impetuous colours, text and image seem to burst free from the boundaries of the picture frame. Stokou focuses on the dimensions provided by the canvas and leads the viewer back into the reality of art by attempting to explore the visual parameters of current positions in painting in the overall context of art.

Walter Seidl
(English translation: Mandana Taban)