She was born on an island, Cyprus, and to re-join her soul, she set
the departure here. An island of air and light. Like Aphrodite at
Petra Tou Romiou, beauty of the first day, Marina is a goddess of
the Arabian Nights. But perhaps on the shores of the Mediterranean
one touches the intelligible, one claims knowledge: the matter, the
place, the time. For Marina Olympios belongs to this word, which is
older than all the others, which links the poem, art and time. Her
language does not reduce common words to rocks, caves, soils, rivers
and lakes. She maintains specific relationships with these natural
elements and nothing will reveal this union with the world, like a
people in its buzzing in the fabric of the universe.
In contrast to any system, her work adjusts to this fascinating,
multiple, inexhaustible presence in the world, from which she
delivers a conscience. In her, everything makes a sudden story,
writing and thought.
She is a daughter of a culture that goes back thousands of years and
she could “dance” her stories, her lives and raise us to the heights
of her inner journey, movement and vision. In her, the earth spoke.
Throughout her meetings with beings and places, a secret and silent
fraternity was born. She illuminates our present, never tires of
advancing on the earth: her base. Her tracks make a destiny that
only reveals itself as it proceeds.
At the heart of her trajectory: stones, fossils, crystals that speak
of an older order before water and fire. The stones, a “mute world”
(dear to Francis Ponge), offer our view original landscapes of
brilliance and light in their incredible density. This is the time
of origins, extravagant forms that do not depend on any artistic
will. Always there, already there, they fascinate by their harmony,
in the purity and the infallible of their presence itself.
Perenniality and permanence of the mineral fortify a feeling of
filiation with Marina Olympios. She has always listened to that
immemorial that the stones testify, to the grave, the fixed and the
extreme they possess. Cyprus is a land of colours and images,
geological formations that, in their curious arrangement, attest to
an improbable and unexpected resemblance to the human. I think of
these old slags, greyish blisters, like a Door of Hell that Rodin
would not have denied, aggregated and disaggregated figures, as if
they were time, groups and clusters of bodies that do not fear
She also pays great attention to the plastic quality of reality, in
her work everything is striking with relief and poetic intensity.
Because for Marina everything exists so vigorously in the blue
confines of the world: the archaeological sites, the rites and
ceremonies of the ancient civilizations of Machu Pichu in Peru, the
Khmer temple of Preah-Khan, the Prambanan in Java, Kalasasya in
Bolivia, the Phi-Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea. All of them dating
back to the twelfth century, which is this time woven of moments, of
places, which interweave and intertwine where everything is exactly
what it should be. Memory, gods, dragons, divinities, there is a
place of language that is no longer language but this silence, this
majestic silence that traverses the thrill of the sacred forces.
Forever witness of a continuous aesthetic of the world, of
experience, of culture, of history, the approach of Marina Olympios
proves to be a warning, an ultimate moral of the artist in times of
desolation and dereliction. How would nature be guilty? Nothing to
blame for what the earth produces, we pass the world to the brink of
sounds, images, epochs “between the times”.
But so many signs are here today to show that the earth is damaged
through waste: the ruin of the climate, the degradation of the soil,
the proliferation of “irresponsible” images, the weakening of
resources such as water. But Marina Olympios awakens us, prevents
the breaking of all that was, is, and could come. As a step coming
from the night, a cry, she gives us a gift by her presence alone.
Like the nymphs who carry the heavenly waters, she edifies her art
against oblivion and ruin. Beyond beauty, she makes visible the
concrete reality of what nature expresses before man.
From this buried voice, resurging from the shadows, she reveals in
the faults, folds, inks of the earth, a secret beauty, the dawn of a
marvellous, which “assembles” us. She belongs to the future and to
the beginning, guardian of an instinctive nature, the source of the
feminine in the bleeding recess of mother-earth, her home. In what
way does the feminine carry sacredness, mystery, but also danger or
impurity? This blood of women, a red thread of fertility, cinnabar
red of collared veins, already drunk, of the Kokkinoyia mines in
Mitsero (Cyprus). Like the goddesses spinning destiny, Marina
Olympios contaminates with femininity a work of sharing and
communion with nature, in which she is initiated.
In this she lifts all the taboos and tells the founding wanderings
of an eternal place, the sacred site of her birth. A place that has
its load, its gravity, with which shine the high sites, where step
by step its history has fixed. Her story follows her like a shadow,
a shadow on the skin of the earth. She slips perpetually towards her
dream, the movement of life, of her life. The female body is of the
utmost importance in the work of Marina Olympios, form-woman is here
central like the richness of her figuration in the rock.
Her work traverses simultaneously philosophy, archaeology, geology
but also photography, video and painting. It refers to the
transgressive power of art, it is a claim, an affirmation of the
rights of matter and the body. Her physical, intellectual and
imaginary practice of the world tries to escape the insipidity of a
life dissociated from the sacred, the temporal and pleasure. From
where this presence of the marvellous, in order to lift the veil and
return to the fairyhoods of childhood, vulnerable little girl, lost
innocence, listening to what the earth has told her, in the
immaterial white of the spaces of the painting and of the landscape.
The earth freed from futile man, his whims, his betrayals and his
cowardice towards beings and things.
She exhumes the forces and the desires of a whole female being who
aspires to a totality, a concrete universal, a kind of sovereignty
of the body in its desires and its driving forces, those which the
earth hides in the hollow of its flanks and which keep for some time
the form of storms and its wounds. Each of the mediums she requires
(photography, video, painting) is a living image of life. At a time
when there is a crisis of representation, her images reflect, as in
the past, a truth of the experience of the world that does not lie.
For Marina Olympios it concerns “a world outside” and what she feels
in frequenting it, to say that beauty that is self-sufficient. Her
gaze knows neither repetition nor rest. It is about a reality that
is more and more absent, that withdraws which it means firstly
movement, the flow and then the stop, a frozen image reversing the
history of painting and photography.
Beyond the world, Marina Olympios is a voice in the vast light, near
and far, in the true becoming of her promise. Art is what gives
confidence and allows us to recover at least to correct our
distress. Arrived at this desired thing, she will then speak the
word, going and coming in the day, the beauty of the other world.
“It does not matter where I'll start, because to this place I'll
also come back,” said Parmenides; through the cities of the sun,
Marina Olympios shows us the way.
Elisabeth Chambon, Curator of the Musée Géo-Charles.