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In the belief that my own words would be just marginal notes upon the truth within the canvas I decided to approach the composition of a text about my personal relationship to my work in a way similar to the process of creating a painting. Surrounded by invented or found text fragments I reorder and resample them, until a form emerges which for the time being I feel able to accept as a valid expression of some personal truth. In a language other than my mother tongue it seems somewhat easier to keep a distance from words and phrases, to treat them almost as objects, second hand material to be reshaped and modified into a new articulation.

I perceive painting as a translation of the Unconscious. The process of painting, its preparation and its conclusion, looking at my paintings and observing others while they confront them has been for me a unique source of knowledge about the world and myself.

I was trained as a painter at the School of Fine Arts in Berlin. I lived and worked there for several years. The Berlin flea markets have been places of great importance to me and my work. They were places loaded with the energy of the past, energy accumulated in a very material way. All kinds of people gathered there on weekends to deal in various ways with a mass of material out of its original context, carrying visible marks of time and man, things once loved and treasured now lying around, materialized memory which I could include in my painting because it was not exactly my own.

My earlier paintings were a series of big, almost monochromatic canvases, layered all over with lace from curtains thrown by fate in the Turkish market, covered by a skin of old charcoal paper sheets. Abstract paintings made of figurative materials, carefully textured dark surfaces hardly revealing their subtle secrets. I consider these paintings as dense nets of materiality, notions and feelings, which with time and work gradually opened up, revealed more of their pulsating inner life and got more colorful and exuberant.

In the next body of work I refined my use of collage, incorporating a variety of materials in the painting. I used textile in various forms - floral motives and lace once used for clothing or domestic purposes, scarves, curtains, bed sheets, but also printed paper, pages from children's drawing books, tissue papers, sewing patterns, found letters, personal notes and my own drawings. I let these materials become part of a personal register of images, a visual vocabulary that inspired endless attempts to imagine articulations and articulate images about body, memory, and the passions of female subjectivity.

In my most recent painting the compositional complexity and the abundance of the used materials tend to give way to lighter composition and implied materiality. Cutouts from fashion magazines and street posters with all kinds of alluring poses allowed me a different form of figuration. Practically drawn with scissors, these cutout forms appear on the canvas either pasted on, outlined by a lightly colored brush or just sprayed on its surface. They are silhouettes of fragmented, cut, traced female bodies, imprisoned in their materiality yet never fully present, floating in an ambivalent state between joy and pain, in the imagined space of memory.

Painting is a way of reflecting on life. It is a form of prayer, my own way of wondering about the mystery of existence. All components of the work are parts of the desire to transform the spirit. My paintings, all of them, are nothing but the repeated attempt to articulate something that can never be fully articulated, neither as a painting nor as a text. There is always something missing. This missing something is what keeps me alive and painting.

Lila Polenaki


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