artist next to her work Cosmos-Hellas
her, one person show,
at the United Nations)
FOR HER PAINTING
The works of Efi
Athanassiou represent certain phases of an organic evolution, a
This march begins with the disposition to express the sentiment of the
surrounding world (representation of landscape, nature morte, portraiture).
Advancing progressively in this evolution the representation aspect,
including also the anthropocentric one, retreats in front of a vision
of the forces of the universe, which suggests the cosmic dimension and
a new double and parallel form appears of free space and geometrical
composition and is integrated in 1975.
It introduces the expression of the rudimentary component of nature
and as a result of the human being, the energy which exists in every
molecule of matter, functioning with an inconceivable dynamism, that
creates the infinitude of forms and as it is proved by the most advanced
scientific research of the century (Eisenberg, Einstein, Max Planck,
A. Hermann, D. Lawden) acts as a universal spirit and soul that creates,
controls and regulates everything.
Through this double, parallel and unified expression of the energy,
the consciousness which might contribute into another level of interhuman
relationships, is aimed.
In the last
phase beyond the energetic character of the work, is also integrated
the therapeutic function of colours, in painting, introduced for the
first time, by Efi Athanassiou, after many years of progressive evolution
The healing properties of colour are based on very extended respective
scientific bibliography which Efi Athanassiou includes in her book
"The therapeutic of colour and its application in painting"
published in 2002 by ION Group Companies. Efi Athanassiou has also applied
the respective correspondences of colour and music, with excellent results
in musical compositions.
Theodoracopoulos (Professor of the University of Athens and member
of the Greek Academy) quotes:
...Prepared to accept every beauty of this primeval art - man first painted and then built. This means that this need to express himself was primordial. The
art of Efi Athanassiou is clearly transcendental, metaphysical and supersubstantial.
The way she works is quite specific.
spirit penetrates the objects, traverses their inwardness, splits the
phenomenon and conceives the essence which finally emerges as a new
full of energy phenomenon, which convinces us that it is descended from
the world of the spirit and of the soul.
way she reveals the essence is indeed apocalyptic and at the same time
explosive and impoderous.
spirit triumphs in this overcoming of the limited. To go beyond what
you see I call it freedom and Effie Athanassiou with her painting advances
beyond the data of the senses, that is why every one of her images is
an act of freedom. This spiritual freedom I absolutely enjoy because it is the result of a spiritual struggle.
Professor of the Athens University
Member of The Greek Academy
of Efi Athanassiou. Explorations, Characteristics and Expressive Content
The critic Chryssanthos
Christou, Art Historian (Professor of the Athens University and
a member of the Greek Academy) describes her painting as follows:
With studies for
painting in the Athens University of Fine Arts, with professors Yiannis
Moralis and George Mavroides, of archaeology and history of Art, in
the Philosophic School of Athens University, and History of Art in the
University of London, and with many expositions in Greece and abroad,
Efi Athanassiou, sharing her time between Greece and Switzerland, continues
her researches and expands her conquests. A painter and a writer, she
is distinguished for her activity in different directions and she moves
with a greater ease in the climate of expressionistic tendencies and
the symbolic types. And the extend of her researches and the character
of her pictorial language she gives to us with her painting of the last
years too. There is no doubt that Athanassiou is not interested in the
external optic reality but only as incitement, which will permit her
to advance to formulations which are distinguished for the suggestive
force of the colour and the expression of her purely personal visions.
So in her specific efforts with schematized representative elements
and the freedom of organizing, the determinative role of the colour
values and a space of a cosmic dimension, which is ingeniously created,
she is interested and achieves to suggest energies, express vibrations
and present to a greater extent the becoming than the being.
It is substantially a purely personal expressionistic language in which
the colours do not remain expressive values only but they are also potentials
for imposing more symbolic expansion possibilities.
Her colours, fluid and free, with studied contrasts of warm and cool
tones, energetic and often powerfully intensive, render meaning to the
indeterminable space, enrich it with forces and give every category
of expressive expanding possibilities to the pictorial surface.
In the climate of a painting where the conquests of the abstract expressionism
are valued without entirely sacrificing the figurative elements, the
works of Athanassiou are distinguished for the expressive force of the
colour and their more metaphorical and symbolical expansions.
A series of new features can be marked in some of the more outstanding
tendencies of hers, which are her turn to the circular subjects, the
linear elements and the greater automatism of her writing. In certain
cases, moreover, the role of the vacant space and the emphasis in movement
are more clearly stressed, so that they also enrich with new expressive
expansive possibilities her works. Because now her pictorial language
with the use of new combinations and the emphasis on the circular movement,
the energetic character of the colour and the contrast of vacant and
full space, results in wholes which are distinguished for their internal
wealth and their power of expression.
Moreover, the freedom of her touch, with the stress on calligraphic
types, comes to express better internal vibrations and external forces
and makes her visions real forms.
It is substantially a painting of colour mostly, which in the direction
of the expressionistic tendencies, is distinguished for the intrinsic
value of the conception, the wealth of expression, the suggestive force
and the security of her statements.
Professor of History of Art of the Athens University
Ģember of the Greek Academy
Rythms of Energy in the painting of Efi Athanassiou
The work of Athanassiou
shows an organic evolution. It is a march which starts with the willing
to express the feeling of the surrounding world.
In the first phase the expressionistic tendency in depicting the landscape,
nature morte and portrait is succeeded by a period of geometric disposition,
which brings a new element in the development of style.
The whole of the first phase, which is characterized by the psychographic
concept of the subject -evident even in the landscape or nature morte,
as well as in the portraiture- expresses an ability of deep internal
The next phase consists of visionary landscapes and geometrical compositions.
The lighting is internal, embodied in the colour. The objects have embodied
the light. From the union of these two phases derives the posterior
phase as it is manifested in the transcendental cosmic landscapes which
attain a unified style.
As the French
critic Reva Remy quotes:
vision cosmique métaphysique de cette artiste Grecque nous a revellé
les profondeurs d une ame noble et pure, sa palette vibrante de
sensibilité transcript les labyrinths de l aventure universelle
avec emotion et finesse.
An independency in the choice as well as in the handling of the subject
is here manifested. The rhythm, in this phase, becomes ampler with an
unusual boldness and power in the colour gamut and free dynamism in
the brush. The quite spontaneous inspiration and the absolutely personal
technique and sense of colour result in obtaining a powerful unity of
composition and makes the work not to be able to be copied. The fluidity
of the handling reinforces the dynamic and pictorial unity. The form
and the colour is charged with a purely spiritual meaning as the similarity
with the natural world is lessened.
The French critic Lucien Mandose mentions:
dans un universe parallele que nous entraine le talent envoutant d
Efi Athanassiou, artiste raffiné et lyrique qui dispose d
un clavier chromatique d une prodigieuse diversité. Le
monde éclaté, qu il nous decrit d un pinceau
fluide, se reconstitue selon une schema plastique d une geometrie
rigoureuse ou la forme atteint à sa pleine densité.
In the following phase the movement expresses the energy existing in
the universe with an instinctive assuredness and a visionary power which
attributes the work with a transcendental quality. The consciousness
of a transcendental background of the human life stresses its spiritual
In this phase the anthropocentric aspect gives way to the vision of
the forces of the universe. The transcendental which is introduced explodes
within the natural with a primordial invincible force and suggests the
cosmic dimension. The daring of the pictorial vision shows that it s
based on entirely inner sources.
The French critic Mari Jo quotes:
Athanassiou jongle avec le circle et une peinture de tendence cosmique.
On imagine les étoiles multicolores éclatant comme des fusées.
Les details sont parfois absurdes, mais merveuilleux par la juxtaposition
The impression of an infinite space gives the feeling of a supreme unity
to which all are subdued and brings a clear, in its contents, message.
The idea and reality of the unity in the universe.
Advancing progressively in this evolution she attains the integration
of forms which show the substantial character of nature (that includes
man too) the energy which exists everywhere and preserves everything.
The subject of these images though it is composite (a variety of forms
free and geometrical) is, at the same time entirely unique. It expresses
the Energy, in its cosmogonic movement.
The morphologic elements by which she attains the purpose of her creation
are force, movement and a prodigious colour range, which all contrive
to the formation of a transcendental substance (content) of cosmic vision.
The strange sense of beauty in the functioning of her colour is due
to its direct conjunction with light, which makes it vibrate, giving
it a new image with every change of lighting, especially of the natural
one. Every painting of hers is like a diversity of its alternations
in the different hours of the day.
In her compositions balance rotating mobilized masses in lyric polyphony
with counterpoints powerful and harmonic, which have audacious been
conceived as forms of energy and light, subdued to the general kinetic
The structure of the form, in clear dynamic colours, is made by a composite unanimous composition, which unites the contents with the form.
Her daring compositions are based on a visionary symbolism, which shows
us the eternal universe in its evolutionary movement.
The New York critic,
of the periodical Art Speak, Palmer Poroner, writes:
brilliantly colourful paintings of Efi Athanassiou, in this exhibit, are titled cosmic symbolism, yet are also of this
ever moving vitality, her internal dynamics. Sparks of yellow, red and
blue seem to rotate over a white hot core. Cosmic though her subject
is, Athanassiou retains the human touch, and this inner center seems
at times an abstract vision of the female nude. In this composition
format, Athanassiou enjoys the freedom of form for her fluid movement.
The outer colors appear to form their own contrasting figures as well,
for instance in The Unity of worlds", reproduced on the second
page of colour in this issue.
is a strong mystical power in these paintings, especially in the pale
central image, more mystical as it becomes brighter and more abstract.
This unifying central composition gives Efi Athanassious work
more painterly power and emotional appeal.
The painting of Athanassiou has, from the beginning of her career, been
characterized by critics as that of a great colourist.
In the latest phase of her work, however, Athanassiou has accomplished
one more important step in this direction. After a great research in
the healing power of colour, based on the existing extended bibliography,
she has introduced The therapeutic application of the colour in
painting, which she analyses in her book:"The
therapeutic of colour and its application in painting ION Editorial
group", Athens 2002.
The colours she applies in her paintings are powerful, pure colours,
which can, according to the existing related bibliography, be positive
and therapeutic for the body and soul.
In this way, she unites their intrinsic value with the practical therapeutic
Works of various phases of Athanassiou have successfully been realized
in tapestry and carpet creations, which extends the applications of
the therapeutic use of their colours.
The latest phase of the work of Athanassiou includes the great dimension
(2,40 x 4,20cm) triptychs Energy Centres and Cosmodynamic
In this phase, the work of Athanassiou aims to express in various images,
of daring compositions, in a colour range of great diversity, entirely
personal technique and an intense sense of colour the subject which
absolutely possesses her: the Energy in its cosmogonic movement, which
creates, sustains and moves everything.
These paintings beyond the harmony and force of their kinetic forms
and colours which are pleasant to the eye, bear a message which converges
with the most advanced scientific research of the century (Eisenberg,
Einstein, Max Planck, A. Hermann, D. Lawden). This message is that the
energy existing in every molecule of matter, creating the infinitude
of forms acts as universal mind and soul (consciousness) which creates,
sustains and moves everything in its supreme vibration.
The most appropriate ending of the presentation of the work of Athanassiou
would undoubtedly be the three words mentioned in her Homage in the
Who is Who, in International Art, which perfectly characterize it:
Energiques, Cosmodynamiques, Chromocuratives.
The criticism of A. Doras is a thorough examination and appreciation of the work of Athanassiou, which throws light in all its phases.
Universe and Eternity
The painting of
Efi Athanassiou, as we have followed it, in its long march, presents
a number of characteristics to which special attention should be drawn as they
show the caliber of the artist.
Her painting is absolute in contrast with the programmatic painting
and it is entirely personal. It begins with naivity, as every reviving
art and no influence in it can be traced.
The work has a seriousness and sincerity in its conception and avoids
effects for this reason could miss some of the attention due to
It has, from the beginning rejected dexterity. On the contrary
its instinctive language, a token of ingenuity, has formed and preserved
a quality of spontaneous inspiration.
It has retained a positive and secure pictorial instinct in its expressive
means, which attests a powerful will. This instinct is reinforced by
an acute and exact observation ability, evident from her first works, which has
resulted to a diversity and liveliness of expression.
There is a progressive evolution towards purely pictorial means.
Her lyric imagination is manifested in colour.
The feeling and expressing of her colour shows rare qualities of a colourist.
The lighting is entirely internal, embodied in the colour. Within these
intensively powerful colours we see the vibration of light, too.
The fluidity of her handling reinforces the dynamic quality and the
The sensation and feeling is instantly transubstantiated with all the
unforeseen incidents of a direct touch and results to a great pictorial
freedom, which is transmitted to the observer.
The expressive gesture of the soul is, so, immediately transferred to
the decisive dynamically charged touch.
This rapidity of execution gives a sensation of knowledge and force
and the final result shows no effort at all, which contrives to the
quality of strength and vitality.
One of the most striking characteristics in the painting of Athanassiou
is the expression of movement in space (which is the most important aesthetic
The consonance and harmony of diverging elements together with the dynamic trend
of the movement ensures an unbreakable unity in the parts and the whole,
as well (which constitutes a character of great works). Nothing can
be detached and for this reason the work cannot be repeated or copied.
This impression of the unrepeatable renders the style in the work of
The structure of the form is effected with a, usually, simple but sometimes
very complex uniform composition which unites the contents, the substance,
with the form.
There is a unity of feeling manifested in the various parts and a simplicity
of relationship between them. At the same time, a variety is evident
in every picture as well as in the whole of her work, which shows a
diversion in unity.
This painting attains finally a vibration quality, which suggests and
expresses the existing in all things and beings energy.
The subject, which is the universe, is elevated in the force of a symbol.
Its macroscopic space expands the consciousness to a new world.
The boldness of the pictorial vision shows that this painting derives
from entirely internal sources. These daring compositions are based
on a visionary symbolism, which shows the universe in its evolutionary
movement. The symbolized elements have been conceived as forces of energy.
Even in the smaller works there is a scale suggestive of infinity, which
gives the cosmic dimension and endows the work with the sense of the
There is a lyric polyphony of powerful counterpoints which have daringly
been conceived as forms of energy (light) and are subdued to the general
The cosmic movement is suggested by light and intense colour. The painting
of Athanassiou rejects darkness. All colours are luminous and intense
and this is a part of their symbolism as well, which has a functional
joyous influence for the observer.
There is an impression of a supreme unity to which everything is subdued,
that derives from the contrasts and unity of every part and every one
of her work and is transferred to the general symbolism of the work
The charging of the forms and colour with pure spiritual values reduces
the similarity with natural world and the painting becomes visionary.
It shows an experience of the transcendental substratum of human life.
There is a sense of repletion in the painting of Athanassiou that transmits
an increased consciousness, which is the essence of the aesthetic experience.
The transcription of the universe in vibrations of pure colours and
light offer to the imagination boundless possibilities. They become
a musical clavier the motive of which can always be in free improvisation.
The cosmic image is often created by an open form in which light vibrates
The compositions are daringly asymmetric, with an emphasis to the open,
which suggests infinite. The painting of Athanassiou combines such rare
qualities as it is visionary breath with the liveliness of immediacy.
The perspective which Athanassiou manages to create in her works forms
a new structure of space for the expression of cosmic dynamism. It is
the bearer of the infinite with dynamics which reveal an infinite vista.
With the dissolution of the external stability of the form she makes
possible a vision of internal reality. Athanassiou does not depict the
usual reality, but extends consciousness to a new world she has discovered.
She expresses the invisible within the visible world.
The unity of style of Athanassiou is not something that has been obtained
by chance, but the outcome of a long research combined with a series
of other factors as the command of her means and the finding of the
suitable expressive manner.
Athanassiou has definitely the ability of a deep consciousness which
she expresses. This consciousness is a strife of whole life in silence
(with sometimes long spaces from public life) in order to penetrate
to herself for the understanding of the inner life of man and then express
it in her art.
This introversion attitude in the work of Athanassiou with a research
for the spiritual power in man, which controls his life, from its origin
to his evolution, is the key for the work of Athanassiou.
The character of the work of Athanassiou is absolutely spiritual and
not intellectual (which means cerebral).
No other work, perhaps, proves better the latin dictum Manus Animam
Pinxit. The work of Athanassiou is an offspring of the soul.
With her compositions which depict energy in the universe, Athanassiou
is identified with the universe, in which she many times shows balancing
Her space is only vacant when pure energy is depicted. It is usually
inhabited by mobile abstractive figures in expressive movements and
These figures look like symbols of a humanity inhabiting this universe,
which unites all of them. If we want to be right with the artist we
must recognize in her work not a superiority of degree (to surpass others)
but a superiority of kind in her painting as it attempts to express
the supreme energy which sustains all and is also the existence of man
and perhaps his immortality.
The importance, therefore, of this artist (caliber and range) is proportionate
not only with the external form of the work, but with its fundamental
character to express the unity in everything in universe, which includes
human creatures too.
This uniqueness perhaps of the autonomous creative work of Athanassiou,
in its spiritual character, places it in the area of the monumental
and the sublime.
The work of Athanassiou is an organic evolution. It is a march which
starts with the willing to express the feeling of the surrounding world.
Advancing progressively in this evolution she attains the integration
of forms, which show the substantial character of nature, the energy
which exists everywhere and preserves everything.
The last phase of the work of Athanassiou especially, which is the culminating
point of the, up to now, work of the artist, expresses with a greater
simplicity the image of this energy. She gives us in it a message of
understanding and consciousness of this almighty eternal energy, which
if realized could bring the world of today to another level of inter-human
relationships. Athanassiou transcends therefore the temporal to show
Rome, November 1990.
Athanassiou: perception et images du cosmos"
Aujourd'hui le ciel
s'ouvre enfin, l' été peut exploser et faire résonner
sa symphonie de couleurs pures et violentes. Mes yeux éblouis
enveloppent le paysage voilé d'or et d'azur - par endroits s'allument
des éclaboussures de pourpre et de vert. J' observe, que progressivement,
toutes formes, les êtres et les choses, perdent leurs contours
et leur consistance dans la mer de couleurs, ils se fondent en une chromatique
vibrante de mille messages, un flux sans parole mais néanmoins
source de sens et d' émotion indicibles. Je pense alors à
ceux qui, peintres et musiciens, ont recherché et cherchent encore,
à créer un langage plus évocateur que le langage
lui-même, un système de communication grâce auquel
mots et concepts aient le pouvoir de se transformer en sensations pures
et immédiates, à l'image de ce paysage balayé par
le spectre des rayons colorés de la lumière.
J'ai compris, à ce moment, qu'Efi Athanassiou fait partie de
ces créateurs d'alphabets non-verbaux, miroirs de la conscience
vivante et des savoirs d'avant et d'après la parole articulée.
Michel Foucault dans « Les mots et les choses » rappelle
aux anthropocentristes le point suivant: « une chose en tout cas
est certaine: c'est que l'homme n'est pas le plus vieux problème
ni le plus constant qui se soit posé au savoir humain... L'homme est une invention dont l'archéologie
de notre pensée montre aisément la date récente. Et peut- être la fin prochaine.
Les compositions d'Efi Athanassiou témoignent, par le geste et
la chromatique, de formes non-vues et non-reconnues par l'optique, la
physique et la métaphysique conventionnelles - sciences par ailleurs
soumises a des épistémologies largement tributaires de
l'arbitraire linguistique - Son vocabulaire informel, au lyrisme proche
des expressionnistes abstraits américains, tente quant à
lui une traduction en termes plastiques de phénoménes
et de lieux sidérants: formes d' énergie, flux et lumières
cosmiques, manifestations spirituelles. Les structures phénoménales
matérialisées à travers ses actes picturaux défient
les lois référentielles et mimétiques, car en effet
comment représenter, évoquer, ce qui n'a été
objectivé ni par le langage, ni par la science? Foucault précise
encore que: « L'histoire naturelle, ce n'est rien d'autre que
la nomination du visible » .
'A ce titre, la peinture d'Efi Athanassiou rélève de la
création pure, un réel art concret, tel celui d'un Max
Bill donnant formes et couleurs aux abstractions mathémathiques,
mais doté chez Efi d'une géométrie sensible et
variable où la liberté d'expression n'est jamais contrecarrée
par la rationnalite. Ainsi coexistent et s' équilibrent dans
ses oeuvres les formes closes et programmatiques de la géométrie
euclidienne: carré , triangle, cercle, avec les formes ouvertes
de l'imaginaire poétique: traces, tâches.coulures, graphies,
fulgurantes. Les unes et les autres déclinent leurs harmonies
complémentaires dans un jeu de contrastes de tons chauds et froids,
d'opposition des valeurs hiérarchiques de la couleur, variations
subtiles proches de la composition musicale. Peinture-astrale, peinture-cristaux,
peinture-lumière, peinture- énergie, les compositions
d'Efi représentent autant de propositions-projections d'univers
parallèles et utopiques, existants ou inéxistants peu importe,
mais que la métaphore picturale de l'artiste actualise et esthétise
par la grâce de l'icône.
Peinture mystique objecéront quelques sceptiques, certes mysticisme
ily a au même titre que celui habitant les visions apocalyptiques
ou paradisiaques d'un Fra Angelico ou d'un Jérôme Bosch.
J'ajouterai qu'il s'agit en l'espèce d'un mysticisme moderniste,
à l'instar de Malevitch préconisant la dilution des formes
dans l'infini espace où encore de Mondrian obsédé
par son projet oecuménique de création d'un langage plastique
universellement compréhensible. L'objet artistique. Inévitablement,
porte en lui une part de sacré - cette fameuse aura dont parle
Walter Benjamin - sans cette dimension, l'objet retomberait dans la
trivialité fonctionnaliste, descriptive et consensuelle du quotidien,
perdant du même coup son pouvoir de transposition-traduction entre
les univers matériels et non-matériels. Les oeuvres d'Efi
Athanassiou ouvrent précisément cet espace de médiation,
matrice du symbolique, entre les classes des objets de pensée
et celles des objets matériels, les relations qu'elle tisse entre
eux, au-delà des artifices et de la vanité du visible,
postulent une caractérisation des formes (où de La Forme)
du principe de vie, qui passent pour ireprésentables. La mise
en images qui en résuit répond aux cynismes d'un art contemporain
qui a renoncé depuis longtemps à représenter l'ïnvisible,
l'inconnu, le sentiment du sacré , pour fuir dans la chronique
événementielle d'un monde en décomposition.
Efi Athanassiou mise sur la perception, le rapport vital de celui qui
perçoit avec son corps propre et avec son monde propre. "La
perception", écrit .Merleau-Ponty, « ne doit rien
à ce que nous savons par ailleurs sur le monde...Elle ne se donne
pas d'abord comme un événement dans le monde auquel on
puisse appliquer, par exemple, la catégorie de causalité
, mais comme une recréation ou une reconstitution du monde à
chaque moment. » Ainsi les métaphores cosmologiques d'Efi
n'ont pas d'autre prétention que de nous ramener, par le biais
du perceptuel, aux phénomènes dont elle a, et dont nous
avons aussi, l'expérience par le simple fait de notre condition
humaine, au delà et au décà de toute idéologie.
Genève, le 8 juillet 1997