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Eva Marathaki, Self Portrait III

Digital print with plant motifs and lace.
Detail of the digital print in black and white, with plant motifs and lace.

The piece by Eva Marathaki Self Portrait III. Proximity Is Carried out by Repetition is part of a larger sequence of works titled Looking for an Identity, which deal with the subject of female identity. In the piece, Eva Marathaki portrays herself as Emily Dickinson. She establishes her aesthetics with art nouveau principles, such as ornamentation and plant motifs.

Looking for an identity

The piece by Eva Marathaki Self Portrait III. Proximity Is Carried out by Repetition is part of a larger sequence of works titled “Looking for an Identity.” The sequence deals with the subject of female identity and its two-way relationship with the contemporary social and ideological context.

Besides pencil drawings and paintings, the sequence also includes videos and performances.

The correlation between form and content

The processing of forms seems to align with the theme and content of the piece. Self Portrait III is marked by ornamentation and a preference for plant motifs, typical of the late 19th century art. The artist bases her aesthetics on the early art nouveau movement.

In the piece that belongs to the Alpha Bank Art Collection, the organic nature of the form is projected magnified. This leads to unexpected, almost surreal results. This feeling is intensified by the deliberate play of alternating black and white, achieved through the skilful use of the pencil and the white surface of the paper.

The influence of Emily Dickinson

The life and work of the iconic American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was, according to the artist herself, the starting point for creating this sequence of works.

Dickinson defied the norms that defined the position and destiny of women in the Victorian era. She remained unmarried and essentially chose to spend most of her life secluded in her childhood room. There she wrote her poems, haunted by an obsession with death and a quest for the self.

Poet and painter become one

The special case of Dickinson prompted Marathaki to appropriate her world completely. This attempt went past any superficial, iconographic representation and led to the poet and engraver becoming one.

Eva Marathaki is portraying herself as Emily Dickinson in Self Portrait III, creating a new, imaginary persona of this young, delicate female figure. The figure bears the features of the artist and dons the modest attire of Dickinson’s era.

Personal reflections

The peculiar living conditions under which the poet wrote her works gave Marathaki fertile ground to explore her own personal concerns. One of them is the concept of seclusion and the oppression of the self under the weight of social and moral imperatives.

Any attempt to further question and interpret those concerns, presupposes the use of conceptual tools of feminist thinking. Among those are the categories of social and biological gender.

Building blocks of the sequence

Eva Marathaki has mentioned: “In my work ‘Looking for an Identity’ the element of repetition stands out; prints from landscapes that bring organic forms into mind; motifs from decorative plants; fabrics and wallpapers, mostly from the 19th century and art nouveau. The presence of the modest collar, the white lace, the contrast between black and white, dense design and white-blank space, soft and hard; these are the building blocks of my works.”

Her life in a nutshell

Eva Marathaki (Athens, 1977) studied Painting under Rena Papaspyrou, Marios Spiliopoulos and Panos Charalampous at the Athens School of Fine Arts. She graduated with honours in 2010. She then obtained her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the same school.

In 2009 she founded “SKOUZE3 artist run space”.

She has also worked in scenography. She has designed scene sets and costumes for theatrical plays, and she has worked as an assistant director in theatre and a scenography assistant in cinema.

Favourite themes

Her work deals with social and political issues, cultural practices and norms. Her goal is to comment on social and political views through the use of metaphors.

Artistic media

Sketching, videos, performances and installations are the media selected by the artist in her work. She uses sketching to capture action, while also executing and recording video performances which are essentially designs in space and time.

A young artist with recognition

Marathaki has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Greece and abroad. Her pieces are featured in private collections in Greece, France, Cyprus and Belgium, as well as in the Alpha Bank Art Collection.

She has been honoured with the Georgios Iakovidis Award for Excellence in 2011, and the Early Entry Award Winner for the Power of Self in the international competition The Power of Self, Artists Wanted, in 2011.

In 2021 the piece Self Portrait III. Proximity Is Carried out by Repetition by Eva Marathaki was featured in the catalogue “Art in the Time of Ecological Disruption” published by the International Association of Corporate Collections of Contemporary Art (ΙACCCA).

The Alpha Bank Art Collection is a member of the IACCCA. The subject of the publication is contemporary artwork, and the way it meets the new and unprecedented environmental and health conditions.

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