The fluid meaning of art and the imprint of travel are characteristic of the work of Marianna Ignataki

Marianna Ignataki

Masks, dark fairy tales and romantic childlikeness

Text: Dimitra Kehagia | Photographs: Marianna Ignataki's Archive
Marianna Ignataki
Marianna Ignataki

Her works feature elements from Chinese myths and dark fairy tales, valuable assets acquired during her stay in Beijing, where she lived and worked from 2010 to 2016. “It was a life-changing experience that left a mark on my work, as it brought me in contact with the object of a lifelong fascination.”

The years she spent in China were riddled with surreal experiences and «an overwhelming energy», igniting a series of pivotal changes in her life and work, explains Marianna Ignataki. However, each journey and each new place of residence emits a different sense of energy, providing different stimuli. “I feel lucky for having lived in different countries, as each and every one of them has had a profound effect on both my life and work. Thessaloniki, my homeland, is associated with my lifelong friends and the projects we carried out together, while Austria and France are linked with my student years and many realizations that have accompanied me ever since. I am currently living in Berlin, a city that has become a source of intimacy and inspiration, thanks to its international and multicultural background, and the predominant role of art.

In the course of her journeys, she has had the chance to witness first-hand that art holds a different status in every culture. “The notion of art is fluid, and inextricably linked with the history of each place and the experiences of its people. In Western culture, contemporary art, as we grasp and define it, plays a key role in our personal growth, as it is intertwined with the history of the Western civilization. In China, on the contrary, where the history of traditional art is based on a rather unique and singular set of principles and values, contemporary art is usually viewed as a foreign influence, often being associated with fashion and design.”

Her goal, apart from her collaboration with CAN Christina Androulidaki Gallery in Athens, is to establish a solid working base in Germany. She is currently working on the duo show Pleasure Drive, alongside English artist Alana Lake, scheduled to be showcased in the cultural center HAUNT in collaboration with Andreas Schmidt Gallery on April 30th, within the framework of the Berlin art weekend. HAUNT is an initiative of Frontviews, an international artists and theorists collective, to which Marianna is a member of. Later this year, she will take part in the group exhibition “Charta #2, Identity and Narration”, focused on drawing, and curated by the Drawing Hub Berlin, Jan-Philipp Frühsorge and Stephan Klee, with the support of the Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa. Her future plans include the group exhibition “CRUSH”, curated by Alana Lake, with the support of the Finnish Institute.

“What most people cannot comprehend is that the work of an artist is not merely the fruit of an occasional inspiration that shows up every now and then. On the contrary, the work of an artist demands discipline and full-time everyday commitment, in multiple levels and with no fixed timetables, more than often destined to remain unpaid. It is a work that demands constant research and wholehearted openness towards all sparks of inspiration found in everyday life (or elsewhere), which will be channeled in the artist’s work, taking form and shape through the artist’s personal touch.”

Marianna Ignataki was fortunate to see her works attract buying interest right from her early steps as an artist. She attributes this fact to the hints of dreamlike eroticism found in her works, which never exceeds the level of insinuation for fear of being tampered by reality. “My heroes – expressively portrayed most of the times are integrated into the compositions through the use of elements pertaining to the absurd or even the ludicrous, triggering surreal scenes. Maybe these scenes, which feel like floating over a different sense of reality, cast a charm on the beholder, as they ooze a romantic childlikeness.”

Masks hold a key place in her work long before and in a different form than the masks worn today due to the pandemic. “I have always taken a keen interest on masks, as they symbolize the multiple facets of every human being, put on for daily use or in the realm of our darkest dreams. The compulsory use of mask nowadays fueled a train of thoughts inside of me, which probably don’t coincide with the prevailing opinion. Covering our face may be unnerving most of the times, but at the same time it generates a sense of freedom, grants the privilege of a certain anonymity and enables the creation of a private space inside the very core of the public sphere, setting us free from many social standards of behavior.”