Paper's special qualities used for large abstract landscapes


There is a very distinctive quality about the work of artist Yiannis Michaelidis and that is his obsession with painting on paper. Years of working at the printing presses of newspapers have given him a special appreciation of the material and, ever since, paper is really the only surface on which he paints or, in earlier works, has used as the basis for his collages.

In his current one-man show at the Nees Morfes Gallery, Michaelidis has used paper to draw landscapes in the form of abstract compositions made of color and the shapes the paint creates after it is applied to paper.

Michaelidis, who worked on the series in the open air in Pelion, actually uses the surface of paper as a sort of landscape: He stretches it usually large sheets—on the ground and, instead of just applying color to it, is attentive to how the paper itself re­acts and how its texture and fibers trans­form the shapes that color gives it. Michae­lidis views painting on paper as a two-way process between the artist and the reaction of the surface. It involves constant transfor­mation and an element of surprise, which is exactly what Michaelidis is interested in: the process perhaps more than the end result.

His paintings on display at the exhibition are mostly large "landscapes," some divided into equal square parts that the artists cuts from the original, single surface and reassembles to create new shapes. The final stage involves pasting those pieces of paper onto the canvas.

In the exhibition, one can see triptychs that illustrate the falling of the leaves at different hours of the day. In the shapes of the leaves, Michaelidis alludes both to the direction they might have taken if falling on­to the paper and indirectly to their move­ment. Other works capture the texture and the different shades of a tree's bark, again under different lighting. There is a soothing quality about the works but also something enigmatic, particularly as the viewer can­not really determine what medium the artist used. From one point of view, the works look like prints but they also seem closer to watercolors. The use of paper is re­ally not detectable in any of the works, though a closer look reveals textures and the lines of fibers that are akin to paper. The process that so interests Michaelidis is also not obvious. But the sense of something painted on paper and something emanat­ing from it is somehow there. This is the dual relationship of his work.

Alexandra Koroxenidis
Herald Tribune – Kathimerini – March 2005
(For the exhibition “Yannis Mihailidis, The Land of Thessaly”, at the Nees Morfes gallery, Athens, March 2005)