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Kalliopi Lemos: In Balance at Gazelli Art House

Haunting studies in pressure and freedom at the London-based artist's new show

by Cajsa Carlson
on 15 March 2016

On a video screen in a gallery in London’s upmarket Mayfair area, a woman trapped in a spheric metal cage rolls across a floor, fruitlessly attempting to break out. It's one image of many in Kalliopi Lemos’ latest exhibition, "In Balance," looking at the individual’s relationship with the world surrounding us. The unifying theme of the fascinating show is balance, and the pursuit of freedom as well as self-fulfillment. The London-based artist says that since her previous major subject was the pressure we all feel in our everyday life, the struggle of attaining balance seemed like a natural continuation.

On view now at Gazelli Art House, Lemos’ first solo exhibition with the gallery features both old and new pieces, making it a good introduction to the recurring themes seen in her work. “I always select the subjects for my work from deep concerns,” the artist tells CH. Of choosing which works to show at Gazelli, she explains, “My subjects follow each other, or they are made in groups of three to give me the opportunity to examine them from many different angles. In this case the new work is continuing from the preceding subject, so some of the older works are included as they belong together conceptually.”

“In Balance” starts with a set of responsive stainless steel sculptures, which are new for the show. Looking like metal seed pods, these are placed on axes and can be moved around, as if balancing a scale. The precariousness of the balancing act illustrates Lemos’ concerns about society, and she hopes visitors will interact with the sculptures: “I would like people to become aware of compromises we all do in our lives and how they affect our inner balance,” she says. The ground floor also hosts larger pod-like sculptures that evoke the idea of something being contained, or about to burst out, an image that’s mirrored in the video “At the Centre of the World," where the woman is trapped in the sphere. The actual sphere can be seen in person on the second floor of the gallery, a beautiful object that seems too small to hold a human body.

On the second floor, visitors can also find Lemos’ air-dried clay figurines wrapped in Japanese paper, whose mutated, fragile bodies evoke another of the artist’s interests. She has explored narratives of displacement and forced migration before, and says that the reason she makes her works is to communicate to her fellow human beings the things that overwhelm her. “This is the urge that makes me create work in the first place. Then I aspire to find a common ground that I share with others and build bridges that help address difficult and enormous problems like migration and the abuse of human dignity. Both of these subjects are very important to me. I believe that art has a role to play in creating awareness and offering a personal and human way through which one can approach a problem or a crisis, and try to deal with it.”

Despite the sadness of the narratives attached to them, Lemos’ sculptures and paintings are beautiful as well as thought-provoking. “In Balance” is sure to draw attention to both her artworks and her concerns about an increasingly pressurized world.

In Balance” is at Gazelli Art House (39 Dover Street, London) now through 24 April 2016.

Images by Cajsa Carlson

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