CM: In her student years - going against the academic expression of Andreas Georgiadis' workshop - Machi Kanistra followed the modern movements of postimpresionism and abstract expressionism, and after wining the complete nonrepresentation in the 1960s, began to investigate the relationship of time, memory and imagination, which lead continuously at different visual effects. Gradually Kanistra formed a personal visual vocabulary. She is concerned by a special abstraction that is based on the particular and through emotions leading to nonrepresentation.
The visual course of Kanistra evolves not in linear but a cyclical manner, deepening on the theme of memory as space that increasingly expands. She has been affected by the following quote of Heraclitus: "You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others go ever flowing on, and souls are vaporized from what is moist" [fragment 12]. Kanistra coined 'ana-thymiama' to allude to 'thymiama' - the incense as tribute to those who passed away. The ana-thymiama is not theologically charged. It is rather a metaphysical exhalation as energy. The Ana-Thymiamata endow the subject in the sense of light that makes it self-luminous. The subject appears dematerialized as a form with a remote presence that expands to the limits of memory. It may be a fiction of imagination as it flickers on the borderline between light and dark. Here the form is bathed in a veil of chiaroscuro. The shadows spread dynamically while respecting the energy of the form. The light in its golden hues resists the darkness. The black spreads like atmosphere, but the gold is diffused and dominates the universe. In the beginning the subject was pure and clear. Gradually, as the work progressed, along with the light disappeared the impression of the image. The shadows corroded the subject, until the state of perfect darkness was reached. She says: "I saw the shadows engulf the light". At that point the intervention of the artist became crucial - to keep the form and to regenerate it, to keep its presence and distance in balance. Such a condition of harmony between light and darkness reconciles memory with oblivion, presence with absence, and life with death.
With Ana-Thymiamata Kanistra carries out a serious study in depth. She develops the picture around a nucleus, a boggle of the mind to discover elements and to restructure them on the composition. She seeks the essence of things, analyzing the images with rigor. This is actually an anatomy of the picture based of the process of fluctuating light and darkness. In the struggle of chiaroscuro that she presents, light eventually overcomes darkness, with all the symbolism involved in such a victory. Memory, imagination and organized thought collaborate evenly in this research towards the production of a harmonious and balanced composition.
[Megakles Rogakos 07/2009]
SCHINA, ATHINA Machi Kanistra: Night Journey - Blazing Night 2000 Melina Mercouri Cultural Center, Athens