Tuesday 25 July 2023

Magda Dimoudi: My art approaches the relationship between humans and nature, time, and life itself

Magda Dimoudi was born in Thessaloniki in 1965 and has been living in Corfu since 1986. From 1982 to 1984, she studied Byzantine painting and iconography under the guidance of Ioannis Vranos. From 1984 to September 1986, she received preliminary training in painting at Kostas Xanthopoulos' "Praxis" workshop, as well as with Vangelis Dimitreas. In Corfu, starting in 1987, she studied with Nikos Zervos, a student of Parthenis, and at the Corfu School of Fine Arts with Spyros Alamani. She has presented her work in 7 solo exhibitions and 47 group exhibitions in Greece and abroad from 1985 until today.

Interview with Jason Kerofylas

When did you decide that art was your path?
For me, it was very clear from the first years of primary school. My family had a bit of a struggle when my painted diary gradually spread from sketchbooks to the kitchen walls, rooms of the house, under the dining table, and so on.

What themes occupy and inspire you in your artwork?
An artwork is a confession, as Camus said. Through a personal way of seeing, I approach the timeless relationship between humans and nature, time, and ultimately life itself, in all its manifestations. In my works, one can discern the chronicle of everyday life's poetic portrait.

Which visual and artistic creators in all forms and expressions of the arts would you say have influenced you?
Initially, the great Byzantine craftsmen, especially Manuel Panselinos of the Palaeologan Renaissance. Then, Fotis Kontoglou, Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), Tsarouchis, and Fasianos. Through the history of Art, Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and the artists of the Renaissance who played a significant role in my personal visual alphabet. Later, Cézanne, Rodin, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Matisse, Chagall, and Magritte. Great directors who moved me include Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, and David Lynch.

Do you consider the visual artist to be a profession?
The visual artist is a necessary state for someone seeking to express themselves visually. They may potentially make a living from it, but it is not always necessary to consider it a profession. It is very challenging for a visual artist to survive economically if they don't have the comfort and endurance provided by family support or a stable permanent job in the public sector. Graduates of the School of Fine Arts are defined as professional artists, mainly participating in the artistic education of the new generation and in painting exhibitions. The rest, without a degree from the School of Fine Arts in Greece or abroad, must daily demonstrate in many directions whether they have artistic proposals, if those are serious and worthy of attention.

What do you believe is the social role of art and the visual artist today?
Do you think visual artists interact adequately with Greek society? What changes do you think would be meaningful in the field of art in Greece for the benefit of art's social relevance, and how do you think that can happen?
We live in the age of the image. Photography, digital media, familiarity with various techniques and styles. Cinema and video that anyone can create provide vast information but not necessarily knowledge. Not necessarily education. As with all significant things, humans hold value. Visual artists have given and continue to give their souls in a difficult era where introversion and isolation have irreversibly affected modern humans. Greek society is oscillating and suffering amidst a crisis of values, ideas, and an economic crisis. The artist cannot remain indifferent. But can they freely express their proposals? If they are not being paid by someone, then yes. "He who thinks freely, thinks well," wrote Rigas Feraios. And if we connect that with Kalvos's "Freedom Requires Virtue and Courage," we are led to the dilemma of the artist in every era: Expression with freedom, bold without limitations, but also with virtue, meaning having a commitment to the universal principles of dignity and human rights. The human being is the measure. In order for today's artist to understand Greek society, education and training are needed. Art classes in schools have been reduced. Why? Who believes that a life devoid of art is satisfactory? A society that ignores art is poor. And yet, the precious asset of art is very simple. It is the smile of Happiness and Peace.

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