Christiana Soulou

Born in Athens. She studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris. She lives and works in Athens. Recent solo exhibitions: This Dust Was Gentleman and Ladies, Sadie Coles HQ (London, 2007); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sadie Coles HQ (London, 2008); Friedrich Petzel Gallery (New York, 2010); Bernier/Eliades Gallery (Athens, 2010). Recent group exhibitions: Of Mice and Men, 4th Berlin Biennial (2006); Dream & Trauma: Works from The Dakis Joannou Collection, Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, 2007); In Praise Of Shadows, Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, Ireland, 2008), Istanbul Modern (Istanbul, Turkey, 2009) and the Benaki Museum (Athens, Greece, 2009). A book of the series Water was published by Sadie Coles HQ in 2008. A book to document the artist’s writings was published by DESTE in 2007, to complement the exhibition Fractured Figure. Works from the Dakis Joannou Collection.

 

With my series of drawings entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I try to give my own interpretation of Shakespeare’s play. I believe that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a terrifying story and that its fundamental subject is the passage through bestiality. The conflict with the bestial as necessary to being human is a theme that is also very dear to the German writer Heinrich von Kleist. In his famous essay on the duel between the fencer and the bear, Kleist presents the confrontation between human and beast as the only possible way for man to reclaim the lost paradise of innocence.

 

The beast, for Shakespeare as for Kleist, is the human soul, untouched by any affliction. Kleist, like Shakespeare, talks to us about humans through beasts. At the same time, a beast can be an ugly being. Between a beast unaware of its ugliness and a human who knows of his beauty, Kleist, like Shakespeare, chooses the former. In other words, in this series of drawings, whenever I wanted to assign some innocence to human characters, I gave them something of the bestial.  And whenever I made the animals of the play, I tried to give them the human characteristics of vanity and stupidity, assigning them as I thought the heroines of the play imagined them.

 

From relating Heinrich von Kleist and Shakespeare in my reading of

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Christiana Soulou, 2008.

Photos

Puck, 2008, Pencil on paper, 17.5 x 13.5 cm, LAC Collection
The Boy, 2008, Pencil and coloured pencils on paper, 29.7 x 20.7 cm, LAC Collection
Oberon’s Wish, 2008, Pencil on paper, 29.5 x 42 cm, LAC Collection
Oberon’s Wish, 2008, Pencil on paper, 29.5 x 42 cm, LAC Collection

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon