The works by Niki Kanagini currently on display at Roma Gallery belong to her Manuscripts and Illustrated Manuscripts series and most of them were created in the 1970s and 1980s. Though partly in different styles, these series of paintings have two defining characteristics in common: processes that result in an illegible personal writing, and a sense of the maturity of the paint or treated surface. Works both large and small, some are painted in oils on canvas or a prepared wooden surface, others employ mixed techniques on paper, printed cloth or canvas. The title Manuscripts, the material (paper, markers, pastels, coloured crayons, and enamel oil paints was well as oils), the columns, the process and techniques (pasting, engraving, impostor, gestural brushwork) all attest to Kanagini’s interest in a writing-not language in the sense of a system, but “visual texts” through which she sought a “maximum intensity communication” , as she put it. She saw the view as Prospective Reader who, sitting in front of the work on the chairs which formed part of the installation along with the painting, would, through a process of contemplation, discover the mental processes behind the image, projecting new ones onto it or adding writing or sketches of their own.
NIKI KANAGINI(1933, Alexandroupolis – Athens, 2008) SHE STUDIED PAINTING at the Ecole Cantonale de Dessin et d’Art Appliqué in Lausanne (1951-1954) and at the Athens High School of Fine Arts (1954-1958) under Yannis Moralis. She followed post-graduate studies in painting at the Central School of Arts and Design (1958-1961) under William Turnbull, Alan Davie and Anton Ehrenzweig in theory. During the London years she turned to abstraction. After her return in Greece in 1961, and for about a decade, she pursued her parallel research in weaving, painting and drawing. In the mid-1970s she introduced writing in mixed media in her painting (Manuscripts and Illustrated Manuscripts series). Since 1979 Kanagini started to focus on gender issues (for example with her installations under the title Domestic Scene), and turned to site-specific installations combining painting, constructions, and readymade objects. Finally, since the mid-1990s she focused her interest on the senses and on collaborative interdisciplinary projects which she coordinated and curated Kanagini lectured at the Vakalo School, Athens (1963–67), at ΚΤΕ (1970-1971) and the Athens High School of Fine Arts (1984-1986). In 1976 she founded along with her colleagues, P. Gravvalos, Theodoros Sculptor, Ch. Karras, D. Kontos, P. Xagoraris, S. Sorongas and G. Touyas, the Association for Contemporary Art (SYST). As the Secretary and later the Head of the administrative board, Kanagini contributed until 1988 to the organization of two conferences (on the Foundation of a Musesum and a Center of Contemporary Art in Greece, 1977, Panteion University) and Contemporary Art and Tradition, NHRF, Athens, 1981), and group exhibitions as well. In 2006, she travelled back along with Angeliki Giannakidou, founder of the Ethnological Museum of Thrace, back to Ortakioi in order to visit the factory and the hotel of her grandfather, and to learn more for her ancestors. Their route was recorded, and the audio-visual material is kept as part of the oral history archive of the museum. A video screening took place at the Thessaloniki Short Film Festival of 2007.