The Alpha C.K. Art Gallery in Nicosia opens Alchemy and gold, the first monographic show on Elysia Athanatos in Cyprus. The show comes one year after Terre, oro, pneuma, a solo show held at Ariete Arte Contemporanea in Bologna (curated by Eleonora Frattarolo), in which the artist consolidated, and showed in a memorable display, the results of the research work she had begun in Jingdezhen, China, and developed in Faenza.
The installations of Elysia Athanatos comprise large, small, sometimes enormous vases made in stoneware or porcelain, masterfully crafted and visually unforgettable. While their outer color may be black, white, brown, or gold, on the inside they are entirely glazed with gold, platinum luster or oxides. “Alchemic mastery” was the name given to “lustre” in the Middle Ages, and to endow a matt, humble material like clay with a golden appearance, was the ultimate goal of majolica decorators, and a practice worthy of alchemy. The origins of the technique behind the process of chemical reduction involved in producing the lustre effect on already fired pieces of ceramic, goes back to the Arabs. We know of experiments carried out as early as the 9th century, yet the very first evidence that has survived to our day is the Deruta square, kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which dates back to 1500. It is truly peculiar that Elysia Athanatos, a young artist living in the age of the web and social networks, should learn to master an ancient craft, which involves the simultaneous use of the hands and brain, which requires physical effort to knead clay and put it into the kiln, and which makes the artist sweat and worry about the firing process and resistance of materials. Elysia is outside all kinds of conformity, fashion, or codified language. In the Alpha C.K. Art Gallery, atop white, slender pedestals, visitors will see tight-bellied pots, which rise up, shaken by the wind of action, pushed by the breath of material, mental and spiritual energies. They will see smooth reflections of the world that watches as whirls, furrows, unexplainable cavities, craters and chasms open up. Then, on glass shelves, they will see countless dinoi, small, shiny, colored, precious. They are ritual pieces in an ideal banquet, with which Elysia celebrates her homecoming, her return to the island of Cyprus.
English translation by Elisabetta Zoni