Roma Gallery invites painting lovers to the first solo exhibition of Anastasis Ioannou in Athens on Thursday, December 21, 2023, entitled “Can’t See the Trees for the Forest“, where the artist presents a new series of works that redefine and reinterpret the subject he is concerned with, while he returns with faith in it to reveal its countless dimensions. His compositions, at first sight painterly landscapes on which forms are imposed that allude to one or more trees, overt or hidden, complement each other, running through the canvases in a constant flow that sometimes thickens and sometimes thins, yet maintaining a constant momentum. Ioannou, who completed his studies in theoretical physics with research in quantum field theory, observes the flashes, the turbulence caused by the most subtle movements, the most hidden events. With the uncertainty principle, quantum mechanics pointed out that even if we know all the variables, we cannot fully predict the evolution of a phenomenon. Just as unpredictably, matter can behave: as a body, as a wave, as an opening, as a tree.
What primarily interests Anastasis Ioannou (b.1990) is the creation of a psychological space and the way this space is reflected on the canvas. That’s why he emphasizes that his images are purely metaphysical. If trees are like faces, then Ioannou’s paintings are portraits of the unknown. They are tree-faces he has seen on the street and in the works of other painters, faintly recalling their shapes. He is not interested in the symbolism of trees or their private lives, but rather in the deeper relationship that humans develop with them (consider that there exist wishing-trees and trees where people choose to hang themselves). “The expression of the inner psychological space is achieved through images of an external place that indeed resemble trees, but for me, that’s the least important thing. I pay more attention to the way light works and diffuses through the image, its intrinsic nature and its fluctuations. I opt to make this light refer not to reality but to the dream itself,” the artist points out. In Anastasis Ioannou’s landscapes, trees are not exactly trees. They could be refugees, portraits of refugees (“Forced to leave again, become a refugee for the second time, and once again an uprooted tree, probably unable to grow new roots, condemned to yearn and suffer,” as Etel Adnan writes). Or they could be self-portraits. One thing is certain: his trees are diverse. Some of them are dark and heavy, others are brighter and more colourful. Some have more impasto, while others have less. They come in different sizes, diptychs and triptychs, and they undergo a transformation, becoming fire or flirting with dusk, fog, and moonlight. But even in the darkest of these paintings, there exist moments of tranquillity. One can watch the weather within these images. And there are trees that seem to embrace each other, exchanging roles, becoming lovers.