Oct 23, 2011

'Sphinx', 2011, Fake space gallery, Beijing, China


Dawn follows dawn and
nights grow old and all the while this curious cat
Lies couching on the
chinese mat with eyes of satin rimmed with gold,
Upon the mat she lies and
leers and on the tawny throat of her
Flutters the soft and
silky fur or ripples to her pointed ears.  
Oscar Wilde, “Sphinx”, 1894
“Which creature in the morning goes on four
legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening
upon three, and the more legs it has, the
weaker it be?”

Welcome to the Sphinx’s world. The Sphinx, who, according to the Greek
mythology, had put the riddle above, was half a woman and half an
animal (with the head and the breast of a woman and the body of a lion
and a bird). What did her riddle above refer to? It had only one answer;
in case someone was giving the wrong one, her/his life ended. And the
answer was the human being, woman or man.
Marianna Ignataki’s exhibition is also a riddle. Her drawings could
possibly give you its answer, but certainly not the easy way. Look at them
more than twice. Check what they have to say. They produce their own
enigmas, but their own answers, as well.  There seems to be no way out,
no other choice, but to face them.
Who are all these creatures? They seem to fall into weird erotic embraces
with themselves or their Siamese parts; their hectic flesh shines and pulses
like crazy. They are imprisoned into a breathless effort to flow into self-contained spaces. These creatures stand alone -or not- always into a blank
claustrophobic place, in the dead-end of their own randy souls.
Although Marianna Ignataki’s drawings could easily be the images of
a glossy lifestyle magazine, lost in their ambiguous fantasies and their
narcissistic naiveté, it is obvious that this is not our case here.
These drawings, smoothly designed through a purification creative process, look so beautiful, yet they are too dark. We face the idea of a fleshy
eroticism, of a spooky lust, hidden behind the mask of beauty. And there
also lies the riddle of those sphinx-like creatures, an enigma whose answer is hiding just under our nose: the sphinx is nothing else but the
human soul.
Areti Leopoulou
Art historian-Curator of the
Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki
March 2011