MULTIVERSE


Anomalous God is Not Great – No1, graphite powder, silver pencil, pastel powder, ink, chalk on paper, 260x260cm ©mitrentse

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‘Cosmogenesis or Virgin’, graphite powder, pastel powder, ink and charcoal on paper, 270cmx270cm ©mitrentse. 

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LIMITED EDITION PRINTS 

– Anomalous God Is Not Great No1 -diptych  (a + b )  screen print on southbank smooth paper & mirror card, 64x 45cm each, edition of 10 signed & numbered. 190 GBP diptych , courtesy the artist. 

Click on thumbs below to enlarge

 

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For Christina Mitrentse, the activity of drawing is far more than a means of illusory representation. Since 1999 she is increasingly known for her extensive commitment to drawing as an autonomous, yet rational, primary mode within her heterotopic practice. Highly descriptive and meticulous, it functions as a supermetaphor, a powerfully inclusive technique. It serves as a tool for critical enquiry, for mapping time, philosophy and ultimately the construction of multiverse worlds, constantly open up visual possibilities. In the ‘ Anomalous God Is Not Great No.1 & No.2’, (large drawings on paper and limited print editions), the simplicity of cloud form structures emphasises the complexity of the phenomenal world, as seen from a panoramic aerial photograph, while the immensity of natural occurrences is either enlarged or reduced to an unfamiliar scale, suggesting the interplay of the banal with the macrocosmic. That way monumentality is micromanaged. The artist’s relationship with the physical properties of the medium is what Mitrentse calls “shifting touch” facilitated through smashing graphite and silver pastel into powder, smudginess itself becoming a symbolic overlay of the emergent multi-time-space. Similarly, in the Sculpture Multiverse Versus Omniverse the realistic graphite technique is counter-balanced by an allegory of scientific imagery in which fragmentary narratives function as reconstructions of the primary ‘data’ of the ‘Multiverse’. The imagery in the Science Books drawing series, (as part of on-going project ATML vol.III ),draws upon scientific books written by popular modern thinkers such as Brian Cox, Stephen Hawking, and Roger Penrose, that present finite and infinite relations, transformations and becomings. In the ‘Wounded Super-Selene’, I ,II, III, IV (drawings & collages on paper) the beautiful spherical graphite forms resemble natural satellites, where personified book-like forms envelope their surfaces, modellings of the viewer’s accumulated knowledge. The ‘Black-hole Scapes’ are deliberately rendered in a quasi-epistemological way wherein the visual metaphor appears to reorganize the singular archaeology of visual memory as a form of receptive interpretation.

Words  © Michael Hampton , London based Arts writer / contributor Art Monthly, Frieze

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Multiverse. Omniverse. Xenoverse. Hyperverse. These terms, and the concept they denote, have been the subject of much scientific debate for decades now, and, although no one can say how many parallel universes there actually are, nor what size, nor how they look, what is certain is that ours is not the only one. Christina Mitrentse (born 1977, Greece) grew up surrounded by myriad books on this subject. Her father studied physics, and so, from an early age, she too was immersed in literature on cosmology and outer space. Brian Cox, Stephen Hawking: all these authors filled her head. “But they’re all very complex,” she says, and so, when she began to turn to art for her own career, she decided she would take these subjects but “make them more approachable and easier to understand for the general public.” But it’s not all just science. Inspired by the works of John Latham (1921-2006), and, of course, having grown up in Greece, where she was exposed to orthodox Christianity, albeit not practising herself, Mitrentse’s work also seeks to explore how art, science and religion might be brought together, and how they overlap.

Mitrentse works primarily with drawing: 99% of her works utilise this medium, and even some of her sculptures are built out of graphite. “Drawing is so often a secondary medium in the history of art,” she explains, “rarely the final product.” But in Mitrentse’s case it is. She seeks to celebrate it as “an art form in itself,” as “an autonomous medium.” But her methods are not conventional. Mitrentse takes her pastels, graphite sticks, and charcoal and crushes them all to a powder. She then builds up the surface of a work using her fingers. For her, drawing is a metaphor for cosmology, and she seeks to create the illusion of entering space. She uses powder, she explains, because it is more like a gas. It is not static, and it gets everywhere. Her pieces are very technical, and not easy to make. Just as scientific theory doesn’t allow for any errors, neither can Mitrentse make a mistake when applying her powders – once there is a mark on the white paper, it cannot be removed.

One of Mitrentse’s larger pieces, Cosmogenesis or Virgin (2010) (270 x 270cm), exemplifies her style. Stark in its black and white tones, it mirrors the structure of a Byzantine icon with the central image repeated in each of the four corners. The title, referring to the birth of the cosmos, has both religious and scientific readings, and it is overlaid with sexual connotations too. The central shell-like figure, floating in a cloudscape so large that it draws the audience in, might represent a black hole or a vagina. And how are we to interpret the penetrating conic shape zooming towards the opening at speed? The work could be something straight out of a science fiction film. There is the impression of travelling in and out of these black holes. Following Hawking, who talks about the “bending of space” in the universe, Mitrentse’s images work solely with circles and curves; there are no straight lines anywhere.

Another of Mitrentse’s works is a series of four pieces, each 50 x 70cm, entitled Wounded Super Selene (I-IV,). Again influenced by Latham’s work, as well as by Russian Constructivism and supermoon theories, these pieces, drawings with superimposed paper collage elements, show spherical moons being penetrated by books. This perhaps brings Mitrentse back to her roots, both as a child, being influenced by all these ideas of cosmology, but also to her ongoing Library Project, begun in 2005, for which she initially destroyed and recreated her own library, and later began to ask friends and colleagues for the title of their favourite (art) books, the cover page of which she then dismantled and reconstructed, juxtaposing titles with random unrelated images. In a later stage of this project, she turned to work with science books, and from this came the series Science Books (2012-13), including works such as Black Holes Are Not Just Holes and Chaosophy (“It’s a very interesting book, actually!”). In an unsurprisingly exacting manner, Mitrentse took to carefully studying different fonts, so as to recreate them perfectly freehand, rather than using stencils, as it might, at first glance, appear.

Mitrentse has created a screen print limited edition of 10 on mirror paper, and another 15 pieces on white paper, which is a diptych entitled Anomalous God Is Not Great No 1. Representing a dark and swirling cloudscape, the mirror light effect references an eclipse, where our experience of light to dark is blurred. Mitrentse’s work, then, is all about looking inside. She represents the macrocosm, but seeks to invite the viewer to penetrate to the microcosm within. Representative of science, religion, and the artistic borderland, her method of production is a science in its own right.

Words © Anna McNay arts writer based in London 2013

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CHRISTINA MITRENTSE: WELCOME TO THE MULTIVERSE  

Only a few centuries ago, we thought that the Earth was the centre of the Universe. Today, if someone tries to give a simplified definition, the term Universe embraces the totality of existence – the Cosmos, the World and Nature. Latest scientific knowledge, coming as a development of the Kantian transcendental idealism (1), proves experimentally that in the Universe there are no material forms or shapes, nor sounds, tastes or smells. The only thing that exists is a seething ocean of energy. It is the human physiology, which through senses selectively collects some parts of this energy stream, transfers them to certain brain centres and converts them into forms, shapes, etc.. This means, that as individuals, we perceive a proportion of the world through our limited senses forming the illusion of material reality.

The Greek artist Christina Mitrentse  presents a body of works that includes drawings, collages, small sculptures as well as limited edition prints. These revolve around the idea of the Multiverse – a hypothetical set of multiple, parallel Universes. Together, these comprise everything that exists. As Mitrentse defines it, a Multiverse is “an infinite realm of Being or potential Being of which the Universe is regarded as a part”. For the development of the Multiverse series, Mitrentse, researched and collected a variety of images with the aim of mapping those infinite Universes. She fused this material further to synthesise Multiverses, represented as if seen in panoramic aerial photographs. Her large scale landscapes have been built up by multiple layers of graphite powder mixed with pastel and pencil, creating metaphors of the complexity of each.  

Her selection of media imbues Mitrenste’s drawings with a delicate metallic sheen and adds velvety depths to the marks she makes. This creates an enigmatic, mysterious quality that blurs the boundaries between drawing, painting and photography. Her cumulus clouds suggest a continuous movement and liquidity of form. Passages of light and dark offer exits to other Universes, while at the same time they metaphorically convey the interior realm of the human psyche. Ethereal and fragile fields of flux offer the possibility of infinite variation and the opportunity to engage in the obsessive nature of the Multiverse process.

Mitrentse’s collages and prints share abstractive affinities with the works of artists of the avant- garde movement, such as Alexandr Rodchenko’s hanging constructions and El Lissitzky’s proun compositions. Their geometric abstraction rejects the illusionistic practices implemented on Mitrentse’s large scale works and implies that the created relations of shapes and concepts do not exist in space or time, but that reductive instances of them can potentially exist in many different times and spaces. Following the footsteps of the conceptual artist John Latham amongst others, Mitrentse links her research with philosophy, literature and contemporary art practice. Her studies explore all the possible ways a book can influence a person’s life and the Multiverses created by this interaction. For instance, her Science Books drawings are inspired by scientific publications written by distinguished contemporary thinkers such as Brian Cox, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose that present complex subjects to broad audiences. While her Wounded Super-Selene series (I-IV,  depict round forms resembling satellites, which surfaces are populated by book-like forms that are emblematic of the spectators’ knowledge. 

(1) Space and time are forms of human intuition, and they can only be proved valid for things as they appear to us and not for things as they are themselves.

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