The artist next to her work Cosmos-Hellas
From her, one person show,
at the United Nations)






Solar Cosmic





Space Eruption














Evolution Forms














Forms of energy







Cosmic Energy



















The works of Efi Athanassiou represent certain phases of an organic evolution, a march.
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 with it.
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.

I.N. 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.
           Her 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.
           The way she reveals the essence is indeed apocalyptic and at the same time explosive and impoderous.
           The 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.

J.N. Theodoracopoulos
Professor of the Athens University
Member of The Greek Academy
October, 1979


The Painting 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.

Athens, July 1991.
Chryssanthos Christou
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 penetration.
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:

           “La 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:

            “C’est 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 densit

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 character.
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:

           “Efi 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 des couleurs.”

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 structure.

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:

           “The 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.
           There 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 Athanassiou’s 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 application.
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 Geometry”.
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.


Athanassiou, 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.
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 pictorial unity.
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 element).
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 Athanassiou.
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 monumental.
There is a lyric polyphony of powerful counterpoints which have daringly been conceived as forms of energy (light) and are subdued to the general kinetic structure.
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 of Athanassiou.
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 with colour.
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 opposing forces.
Her space is only vacant when pure energy is depicted. It is usually inhabited by mobile abstractive figures in expressive movements and attitudes.
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 eternity.

Rome, November 1990.


"Efi 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.

Françoise-Hélène Brou,
Genève, le 8 juillet 1997


powered by