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OLYMPIA POLYMENI - TASSEOGRAPHY: extended until 13 May 2011

April 6th - May 13th

Much to our delight, Olympia Polymeni's new installation is incessantly changing in shape and texture to the point of gaining another dimension of meaning.

Olympia has always expressed fascination with art objects that reflect on their own subject matter, and now after one week at Sartorial, her works allude to the art of ‘reading the coffee' more than ever before.
Gloss paint is known for its penchant for mutation and changes of shape and texture well after the painting is formally – that is, by traditional standards – completed.

Polymeni's choice of medium can only be considered perfect, now that it resonates with the metaphor of tasseography and identities shaped by chance and perception.

On this occasion the exhibition shall be extended until the 13th of May.


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Polymeni’s work takes an unusual twist on the over-used motif of the female identity, explored through the metaphor of tasseography, or the art of fortune-telling by patterns of ground coffee on the surface of a white cup, that is still widely practiced in her native Greece. Polymeni has created a series of paintings and sculptures evocative of curvy female outlines as though formed by leftover coffee.

The traditional reading of the female body would have it reduced to the womb, a black hole leading to decay and death, irrational like fortune telling or like Polymeni’s uncannily disjointed bodies.  Lumpy blacknesses acquire a presence of their own, as the texture of paint and sculptures of wax trigger off an intensely organic response, making the fragments of female bodies seem accidental and insignificant, as though they could have taken any other shape.

Polymeni interrogates and subverts the traditional notion of femininity reduced to confinement and “womanly” pastimes like “telling the coffee” in the afternoon just to while away the time. Not without irony, identity is represented as tragically dissipated with no hope to ever be whole again, constructed and refashioned over and over again by social norms and preconceptions. The female body eventually becomes a scene for political, social and existential statements.

Olympia Polymeni was born in Preveza, Greece in 1975. After graduating in philosophy, she studied painting at Athens School of Fine Arts and moved to London in 2009 to pursue her studies, earning an MA in Fine Art from Central St. Martins College in 2010. She lives and works in East London. 

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See-Through 2011, gloss paint on wood, 150 x 100cm . .. ............... . . Pythia 2011, black wax, 67 x 44 x 49cm......................................... ...Torso in Ermine 2011, gloss paint on wood, 150 x 100cm

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