Mato Ionnanidou is not a sculptor. She is a painter.
Nevertheless, her work in “Naked Women” directly remits to three dimensions, both as technique and theme. In the exhibition there are works covering a journey from the corai of classic antiquity (bust, hair, drapery, rigorous, static proportions) to elastic-like women, faceless tiramola-like women, characters of a private comic strip that has not yet been published. Core: the structured prototypical body of the unbreakable identity that has not (yet) been extended into to the reproduction cycle. Here, the surface has not been disturbed by the intrinsic introversion of motherhood.
At the other extreme, there is the body-lump, the body-arch, stretched beyond its natural possibilities, in order for the body to express its need to shelter itself, in order for the body to be itself the horizon line. In the middle of the naked women scale, a diachronic presence is enthroned; a presence that lays claims on the space inside and outside the framework. Inevitably, we have the impression that once the visitors are gone, the place steams up, roars gently, smells like milk and cunt.
“It”, the motherhood body, is robust and self-sufficient. Ioannidou is invoking it as a child-vivisectionist, with a pagan obsession, wanting to see and show that it is “there”. With the dedication we used to take apart our toys to see what there is inside, the painter, setting as signified the female body, is pointing towards this shocking continent, where the mother was the world, not as uncountable space, but as country. She borrows from Paleolithic Aphrodites, and processes naked figures made out of mud. And colour. Her vital concerns are friction, pressure, maybe also crushing. Nevertheless, all the above are like a retransmission in a universe made out of flesh.
Therefore, the sense of touch too, with the tremendous importance it carries, before the eyesight is able to focus. Her daring is that she tries to outflank the prevalent boundary between inside and outside. What she achieves is to redefine the atavistic self-sufficiency of motherhood. Especially, by her brilliant small (huge) one baby at each breast portraits. It is probably not a coincidence that these portraits welcome the spectator when he/she enters the location. Well done.
Mato Ioannidou in these paintings, like in her previous work, keeps on painting human bodies. But this time it is just bodies, who are detached from the world, isolated in their inner reality. They are depicted free of the magic elements of the previous representations.
They are more direct. One would say that the pictorial material tends to identify with the very essence of the mystery of life and illuminate its components.
The fictional adventure of these bodies creates an emotional excitement to the viewer in such a way that he/she gets to see perspicuously an image that is very close to the truth. And when I am referring to the truth I don’t mean it in the metaphysical way. It’s all about a faultless truth that cannot be hidden or forgotten.
That is the reason why Mato Ioannidou refutes almost automatically any impression of attrition that the bodies have undergone.
The pictorial gesture is there to mitigate the touch of the eyes.
You feel, by looking at them, that you found an ally to your own unfair and unjustified hardship.
You found somebody that implies that you are innocent.
You feel an affinity with these bodies without knowing why.
You recognize this profound Greek knowledge : that the body, even when it is denuded of every external information, still retains dignity as its dominant attitude.