In order to enhance his life’s experience man seeks ways by which to coordinate with the seasons. Apart however from their technical conditions, changes in nature recall in man’s subconscious the precarious and finite quality of life. This latter dimension of the seasons has inspired all the arts in the history of civilization. Perhaps the most distinctive art form associated with the seasons is the 'haiku' – a type of poetry that appeared in Japan in the 16 century.
In their original form, the haiku are small poems of a total of 17 syllables in a single verse – the world’s shortest form of poetry to be read in a single breath. They describe images from nature and provide information on the season through the 'ginkgo' - seasonal words. The haiku condense wit and wisdom, expressed in lyrical or humorous mood, while often retaining the element of surprise. Nature, seasons and colors, the beauty of words and oppositions, play an important role in haiku, and the meaning is elusive.
Zenia Dimitrakopoulou is inspired by the influence of haiku, and creates images of the seasons by giving form to their essence through transformations in parts of trees. She engaged with the tree in painting since the time of her studies. Like in the early work of Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), she found the tree may become a vehicle towards abstraction.
Dimitrakopoulou manages with but a few elements to offer a rich feeling that opens a magical world within us. Her visual ginkgo are strictly selected with references to light, shapes and colors. The tree is always before a pure background. Thus she clearly illustrates for the viewer its role as an intermediary link between earth and sky. The trunk acts as a bridge between root and branch. It originates in the earth as a solid foundation and reaches for the sky as a transcendental telos.
The way in which the tree moves from one season to the next reflects the transformations in nature and at the same time forms part of a rhythm, which reveals a development from the solid to the void - and by extension - from materiality to spirituality. Dimitrakopoulou is interested in the matter of rhythm. The repetition that she aims for in her diptychs, with a different arrangement in the correlation between them, creates a rhythmic effect that corresponds to life’s internal mechanisms.
The tree acquires form in the spontaneous style of calligraphy inspired by Japanese art. The final result is of a coordination. Expression is Dimitrakopoulou’s orientation, without preliminary sketches or rational schedule. She coordinates with herself and - by extension - the cosmos. The philosophy of Zen, which suggests meditation as a key to an ideal lifestyle in its authentic and pure form, opens the way that leads to creation. The result is not predefined, but always revealed through surprises.
Spring: Two independent works of different shapes. The tree combines leaves with flowers. It expresses the feeling of violent birth - a celebration through pain. The energy is confused and diffused.
Summer: Two pairs of vertical works set at different levels. The feeling is light and playful. A play of colors on the leaves and branches while permeated with warm energy. The sun deconstructs the colors. Heat and light create optical illusions.
Autumn: Four pairs of vertical works set at different levels. Autumn is a transitional season between summerly relaxation and winterly austerity. It expresses a feeling of melancholy. The leaves rustle in the wind. The branches, devoid of color, form abstract linear configurations. The curvature of shapes creates a strong rhythmic effect.
Winter: Two separate square works, and a third one, oblong. The branches begin to become bare. Nature matures, freezes and tends to decline. Winter expresses a passing towards death – an unworldly condition, an end that could at the same time be a beginning.
The seasons of the year represent a full life cycle. Each season has its own properties, its own poetry and beauty. With her painting Dimitrakopoulou clearly presents the natural sequential transition from spring to winter, as if it were our lives. Her survey of the seasons eventually brings forth the conclusion that, despite the apparent variety in the passing of time, the aesthetic result is uniform.
ACG Art Curator & Historian
The American College of Greece