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Nikos Navridis: Porcelain, a Second Womb

I  am  glad  that  this  text  welcomes an exhibition that seems to have been “a long time coming”. Though unneeded for the artist, it is absolutely necessary for us since it reminds us that there are always artists who are the exception to the rule, artists who prefer hard work, in the obscurity of their workshop, to the glamorous receptions at exhibition openings.

Maritsa  Travlos  has  been  sketching,  painting  and  composing  her three-dimensional  models  since  the  early  1980s,  when  she  was working with Yanna Persaki. It was about then that we met, introduced  by  our  dear  mutual  friend,  the  outstanding  painter,  Yanna Harachliani, who passed away so young.
Maritsa  Travlos  is  my  friend.  All  these  years,  I  have  observed, admired and learned from her endless research, her tireless industriousness and from the modesty with which she manages her work.
She  started  with  dense,  narrative—almost  like  a  diary  accountcolorful drawings and was finally led to porcelain, a medium that represents her perfectly, a medium that she took many pains to tame and express herself through it to the utmost.
Guided by her aristocratic background, as she was born into a family of Greeks from Smyrna in Asia Minor, she molds her love for life and for the people she respects and accompany her; she speaks about the sea with all its hues, sea urchins, frogs and corals, but also about rembetika music played by Tsitsanis, transforming the then seaside suburb of Moschato into a musical reminiscence, into a shallow landscape of memory, which is at her very fingertips.I consider the large-scale decorative and useful objects that she constructs to be works of singular expressive and plastic strength: huge tables, installations with lamps in the shape of sea urchins made of porcelain, glass and metal; mirrors and frames in bas-relief, practically  sculptures,  drenched  with  personal  stories  and  the  whole  of the underwater world; wall-mounted works and paintings in which porcelain takes the place of paint, lending surfaces yet another dimension: that of translucency.
I would remiss if I did not refer to Maritsa’s studio, with its thousands of tiny, square porcelain samples, the hundreds of boxes of pigments and mixes, the countless paintings with measurements, indications and notes, and the innumerable molds stacked with surgical precision.
“Porcelain: a second womb” is what I think when I am in that studio. These works are fired in kilns that gradually heat up to 1260 o C, in a procedure carried out with mathematical precision and culminating every time the material exceeds the limit, the natural boundaries, its passivity, and acquires color.
Porcecain: a Medium oF Catharsis
With her work and her experience with her medium, Maritsa Travlos has earned the privilege and gift of being able to immerse herself and us along with her. And that is something that happens only when there is a ballast, not the kind that drags you down and makes you heavy, but an artistic ballast, the kind that steadies the ship, enchants you, and allows you to sail on it to a land beyond time and space.

Nikos Navridis
Artist / Professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts
Translated From Greek by Thalia Bisticas