Commentary from Bia Papadopoulou

Helen Parmakeli a graduate from the Fine Arts School of Athens creates magical, fantastical universes.

Ever since her freshman year Parmakeli indulged in the metallic colors and materials while playing with the motive of the cosmic sphere and the extraterrestrial figures with open hands that flowed on the planetic fields while of course ignoring the loss of gravity.

In her paintings of large dimensions made out of pure acrylic colors which she uses in the integral or in their diluted for- the multiple palimpsest levels create various transparent layers through which one frequently discerns the two hemispheres and the flying inhabitants of her cosmic system. Other times the paintings absolutely abstract showing forth the rich textures and spontaneous gestures. The accidental episodes of paint are kept intact and are harmonically incorporated into the work; they further appear on the wide borders that surround, while also isolating the painterly compositions functioning as documents of the live and flowing artistic art.

Parmakeli’s interest in materials led her to the inventive use of an original substance: the aluminium foil. The symbol everyday functional and domestic object is transformed by Parmakeli into an easily shaped artistic material becoming personal trademark. In her wall compositions on canvas or wood it is the aluminium foil that forms the shape and texture of the art work’s support. The inherent nature of the aluminium foil as well as its relief-like formation, captures light and creates an intense play of visual illusions. Parmakeli takes advantage of the innate qualities of this material and of the viewer’s motion in space bringing forward the perpetual transmutation of the work of art in her own personal manner.

The wall compositions are usually developed in two or more levels. The colored plexiglass on the foreground is perforated with shapes allowing vision to penetrate beyond and the viewer to observe the second level.

The forms that have been subtracted from the plexiglass surface are recycled and thus become part of the same composition. Parmakeli extraterrestial men float on the field while reechoing the forms of the void shapes. The positive and negative elements of the work form a whole that refers to the heraclitian cosmic universe and brings to mind the ideas of this great thinker of lonia who professed the coexistence and the unity of the opposites. The clearly structured constructions from bronze and aluminium repeat the morphological game of different levels. The visual illusions are now mostly created by means of the distances between the perforated metallic material and the colored background. It is precisely these distances that produce intense of soft shadows that constantly change according to the viewers position in space. In one of the constructions the flying extraterrestial being, which bears neither specific physiognomic features nor gender is surrealistically turned into a human sea composed of diffused heads. A few motions of the hand suffice in order for the subtracted matter to create new iconic realities.

Parmakeli’s planetic maps deal with the flux of matter in the universe but deal as well with the existential conditions of the human subconscious. The sphere functions in a dual manner: as a reference to the cosmic situation and to the artist’s immaterial inner being. Parmakeli’s universal worlds are after all autobiographical mappings of the soul written testimonies of the mind and the heart.

Bia Papadopoulou
Art Historian, Member of the A.I.C.A.