Maria Genitsariou

Visual Artist, Calligrapher | Greece

Maria Genitsariou, born in 1966 in Piraeus, is a visual artist and calligrapher with a focus on the evolution of Greek calligraphy. Dedicated to art from her youth, she studied graphic arts and painting, always seeking new expressive possibilities through writing. In 1993, she discovered Greek calligraphy and decided to study it at the Paleography Department of MIET with Professor Agamemnon Tselikas. Her goal is to collect and study Greek typefaces and to reproduce their writing and illustration tools. Using writing as her primary medium, she creates works that incorporate various typefaces, transforming them into art. She has presented her works at numerous exhibitions and teaches calligraphy in seminars. Her works are in private collections and collections of international institutions inside and outside Greece, including Vienna and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. Believing in the inexhaustible possibilities of calligraphy, she participates in programs to promote it in Greece and abroad. She collaborates with  ARC – Art Revisited Collective since June 2021.

Statement

When I first encountered Greek manuscripts adorned with decoration, what impressed me was the distinct sensation that the text acquired based on the script and embellishments chosen for each manuscript. How words and letters gained volume and power in the grand formal typefaces, or became delicate ornaments in the pearl-stitched minuscule scripts. The second element that captivated me was the light and transparency exuded by the manuscript as a work of art. Since then, I study manuscripts, adapt historical typefaces, seek materials, and experiment by engraving my own path in the art of calligraphy as a visual creation. And to describe it better, I will use the words of Lefkadios Hern:

“Because humans can no longer see the color, the hues that words possess, their secret ghostly movement, because they can’t eavesdrop on the whisper of words, the rustling made by letters, one after the other, the dreamy flute, the dreamy drums that words play softly and strangely, because they don’t feel the embodiment of words, the frowning and the arousal of words, the weeping, the frenzy, the pandemonium, and the rebellion of words, because they don’t feel at all the radiance of words, their fragrance and their foulness, the softness or the hardness, the aridity or the juices of words, is this a reason not to attempt to urge them to hear them, to see them, to feel all these?”

AT A GLANCE

Type: Calligraphy, Painting, Paper Sculpture, Constructions

Medium: Ink and watercolor on paper, pen and quill writings, constructions

Style: Writing, Symbolism, aesthetic speculation

Themes: –

Workshop: Athens & Salamina, Greece

Associations: –

Price Range: €600-15000

International Scale: EMERGING | HIGH-POTENTIAL | MID-CAREER | ESTABLISHED

RECENT ARTWORKS

CAREER LANDMARKS

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

Soundscapes, Curated by Eirini Palioura, Ersi’s Gallery Athens 2017.

Myths, fairy tales & poetic dreams, Curated by Eirini Palioura, Ersi’s Gallery Athens 2016.

Myths and Fairy Tales, Curated by Georgia Tséri, Follow your art Gallery, Kythira 2016.

Calligraphy of Poetry, Foundation of Angelos and Leto Katakouzenos, Athens 2015.

Japanese myths, Lafcadio Hearn, Curated by Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Beton 7 Gallery Athens 2014.

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SPECIAL PROJECTS/PARTICIPATIONS

Designs-Ideograms for the theatrical event “Tsunami” at the outdoor space of the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Ancient Olympia 2023. Second exhibition at Dafni Monastery, Dafni, Athens 2024.

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WORK PRESENTATIONS
(selection)

Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki -Main Business Room, curated by Paris Kapralos and the responsibility of Myrό Gallery, Thessaloniki 2022

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DESIGN

Minotaur, first pen from the Visconti Exclusive Greece series featuring mythological creatures / Collectible edition of 60 numbered pens, Italy & Greece 2023

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
(selection)

Human geographies, curated by Paris Kapralos, Chili Art Gallery, Athens 2024

Transitions & Passages, annual exhibition of members & friends of ARC – Art Revisited Collective, Luminous Eye Gallery, Athens 2024

Ink on Paper 9: …run faster than decay, conception and curation by Paris Kapralos, Luminous Eye, Athens 2024

The Way of the Horse, curated by Rania Kapeliari, War Museum, Athens 2023

On the Other Side of History, conceived & curated by Effie Michalarou, organized by dreamideamachine AMKE, Lazaros Kountouriotis Historic Residence, Hydra 2023

Steps & Journeys, annual exhibition of the ARC -Art Revisited Collective group of visual artists, Chili Art Gallery, Athens 2023

Unforgettable Homelands: Symbols and Memories, conception and curation by Paris Kapralos, as part of the festival KALAMARIA 1922-2022 A sea of memories…and we all became one, organized by the Municipality of Kalamaria, honoring the 100 years since the Asia Minor Catastrophe, Art Space Gallery ‘Remezzo’, Kalamaria/Thessaloniki 2022

Memorial, curated by Rania Kapeliari, War Museum, Athens 2022

Contemporary visual creators, conception and curation by Paris Kapralos, Myrό Gallery, Thessaloniki 2022

Ink on Paper 3, conception and curation by Paris Kapralos, Myrό Gallery, Thessaloniki 2022

Utopia, conception & curation by Paris Kapralos, Chili Art Gallery, Athens 2022

Crossings, conception and curation by Paris Kapralos, Documentation by Maria Genitsariou, Myrό Gallery, Thessaloniki 2022

5th Art Thessaloniki International Art Fair, Participation with Chili Art Gallery, featuring a series of sculptures co-created with Stavros Kotsireas, Curated by: Paris Kapralos, HELEXPO, Thessaloniki, 2021.

Ink on Paper, Conception and documentation: Paris Kapralos, Curated by: Dr. Sasha Chaitow, The Attic Gallery, Corfu, 2021.

United by Calligraphy, Ministry of Culture of Romania, Bucharest, Romania, 2020.

The Shape of Water, Tsichritzis Foundation for the Visual Arts, Curated by Rania Kapeliari, Athens, 2019.

Feelings Without Places, Myrό Gallery, Curated by Paris Kapralos & George Alisanoglou, Thessaloniki, 2019.

4th Art Thessaloniki International Art Fair, Participation with Karouzos Gallery Zurich, HELEXPO, Thessaloniki, 2019.

Expocalligraphia International, Ministry of Culture of Romania, Bucharest, Romania, 2019.

ORF Long night of Museums, Vienna Calligraphy Center, Austria, 2019.

Metamorphose, Galerie Karouzou, Zurich, Switzerland, 2019.

Tribute to Nikos Kavvadias, Municipal Art Gallery of Piraeus, curated by: Rania Kapeliari, Piraeus, 2019.

The Train of Fear, participation with a calligraphic installation at the Train at Rouf, curated by: Rania Kapeliari, Athens 2018.

The young create for the book, participation within the organization Athens, World Book Capital, curated by: Rania Kapeliari, Contemponary Space Athens, Athens 2018.

Seascapewritings 2017, Anargyrios and Korgialenios School of Spetses (A.K.S.S.), organized by: Gallery Floraki, Spetses 2017.

Invisible Cities – tribute to Italo Calvino, Italian Institute, Athens 2015.

BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS (selection)

Tsunami: 29 haiku from survivors of the natural disaster in Japan in 2011, Mandragoras publications, Athens 2016

The journey of the star and the story of Iris, Sofia Peloponnesiou, Mikri Arktos publications, Athens 2016

The small B’, George Douatzis, Exantas publications, Athens 2004

SEMINARS / LECTURES / MASTERCLASSES / WORKSHOPS (selection)

Study in Black, a workshop on the use of ink in contemporary art, during the “Ink on Paper 9: …run faster than decay” exhibition, Luminous Eye, Athens 2024

Seminar & Workshop on scripts, writing tools, and cryptography in Greece and Italy during the 13th-15th centuries, in the context of the “Levante” exhibition by Italian Lucio Schiavon, organized by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Euboea with the support and under the auspices of the Italian Embassy in Athens and the Italian Cultural Institute, Vailos House, Chalkida 2023

Gleams in Light and Darkness: Metals, Iridescence, Phosphorescent Paints, a masterclass for visual artists and illustrators, during the “Ink on Paper 8: The Writings of Art” exhibition, Luminous Eye, Athens 2023

Ink Painting, a masterclass for visual artists and illustrators, during the “Ink on Paper 6” exhibition, Chili Art Gallery, Athens 2023

ASFA Printmaking Workshop, academic year 2020-2021

The Scripts of the 21st, an audiovisual production of the Piraeus Bank Cultural Foundation, as part of the events for the 200 years since the 1821 revolution, March 2021

Calligraphy workshop – stop motion animation, Animated calligraphy, ANIMASYROS 13, Syros, 2020

Epic Emigration Museum, 4th festival of Greek entrepreneurship and arts, organized by the Greek community of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland, 2020

IFLA World Library and Information Congress, Athens Concert Hall, Athens, 2019

Seminar for children, Thessaloniki History Center, Thessaloniki, 2019

The Aesthetics of Writing, a series of seminars, Bateau Lavoir, arts and cultural activities space, Kifissia, Athens, 2019-2020

Monokondylies, Literary Society Parnassos, Historistai group, 2019

Calligraphy seminars, at the Cultural Foundation of Piraeus Bank, Athens 2017-18-19

ARTWORKS

The scripts of the Greek Revolution

The Piraeus Group Cultural Foundation presents “Scripts of ’21” in a short video featuring the visual calligrapher Maria Genitsariou. What were the materials and writing tools used during the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary periods? What did Makrygiannis write with, and what about Kapodistrias? Who had only a slate and stylus, and who used squid ink, feather, quill, stylus, and blotting paper? How was ink made from soot? What did beeswax provide? How were the written records of the Greek Revolution and the first administration of the Greek state created?

Video: George Kyvernitis, Elia Kalogianni

Sound: Konstantinos Haikalis

Music: TwoStep

Speech at the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the work of Pavlos Moraitis.

During a special event held as part of the inauguration of a unique exhibition titled “Proving the Pythagorean Theorem – Calligraphic Depictions by Pavlos Moraitis,” which took place at the Eugenides Foundation in November 2014, Maria Genitsariou spoke about the significant personality and, on this occasion, guided the audience through the modern concept of calligraphy. Pavlos Moraitis (1937-2010), an Alexandrian calligrapher and scholar, throughout his life, depicted with a style reminiscent of classical manuscripts more than 140 proofs out of the approximately 400 recorded proofs of the theorem. The exhibition featured manuscripts related to Egypt, ancient Greece, mathematics, astronomy, and science in general. The manuscripts were created over a 20-year period on cotton paper, using a variety of materials. The calligrapher’s goal was to make mathematical and scientific subjects attractive, turning them into sources of inspiration for students, educators, and the general public. Maria Genitsariou was introduced by Demi Moraitou, the calligrapher’s daughter.

Calligraphy Then and Now

The video presents an interview given in March 2001 on the sidelines of an exhibition of calligraphy and illumination by Maria Genitsariou. In the interview, the sources of our knowledge about transcriptions and copies of texts that have survived through the centuries are briefly mentioned. The interview also discusses the calligraphers of the past and the present, the methodology, and the tools used to create such works.

Documentation of the series of works "Soundscapes."

The “Soundscapes” of Maria Genitsariou encompass a collection of works where music, lyrics, notes, musical objects, and instruments resonate alongside typographic characters and intricate illustrations to create a visual harmony. The works are structured around their musical core. Pieces from destroyed musical instruments, segments or decorative elements from them, sheet music, and vinyl records become reference points for the narrative. Instruments such as the bouzouki, oud, guitar, drums, and others, originally used to perform musical pieces, are transformed into tools for composing the artworks. They are redefined as they integrate into a new narrative, marked by a strong emotional element, as indicated by their transformation from sound to image. The visual narrative predominantly unfolds on parchment and handmade paper, shaped using rich, deep, and vibrant inks, and enriched with shining gold and silver leaves.

The musical pieces within the works represent the personal preferences of the calligrapher across various genres. They vary and alternate from classical music to contemporary, from traditional songs to rembetika, and from musicalized poetry to lullabies. They originate from Europe and the East, spanning from the 17th century to the 20th. Their common element is Romanticism: emotion and atmosphere. They are calligraphed in adapted historical typefaces, selected based on the music they are meant to follow. As the artist herself declares, they have been modified, much like a musical piece is arranged. The graphic thread, with its forms, intensities, depths, and tonalities, imparts rhythm and harmony to the compositions, lending them a visual musicality.

Functioning as a composer, the artist initially creates and rearranges her visual melodies. In a subsequent step, she performs them, impressing her unique touch upon them, inviting the viewer to participate in her personal visual concert.

Eirini Palioura
Art Historian and Curator

Documentation text for the exhibition “Soundscapes,” Gallery Ersi, Athens 2017

Myths, Fairytales & Poetic Dreams

Taking myths and fairytales as their stimulus and starting point, visual calligrapher Maria Genitsariou undertakes an innovative approach to visualizing narration. Using ink and parchment as her primary materials and primarily employing calligraphy as her technique, the artist renders the text with the distinct dynamics of graphic points. At times, utilizing expressive, combined curves, and at others, employing disjointed, angular forms, the letters reveal their unique morphoplastic qualities. The graphic thread, beyond conveying language and meaning, operates autonomously as an aesthetic element, carving its own paths within the realm of purely visual composition.

The illustrative framing, with realistic representations of landscapes, objects, and geometric patterns, enriches and colors the aesthetic whole, sometimes with subdued, earthy tones and at others with vibrant, lively hues. The works transition into space, acquiring a three-dimensional existence as idiosyncratic constructions made from wooden boxes, bases, and metal frameworks, often incorporating objects or multiple layers of parchment.

As a whole, the compositions succeed in placing intellectual narratives in the material space, expressing them aesthetically, and shaping them visually. Literature, calligraphy, painting, and construction cease to be distinct forms of expression; they merge to become a whole. Words become images, and meanings become colorful journeys and dreams…

Eirini Palioura
Art Historian and Curator

Documentation text for the exhibition “Myths, Fairytales & Poetic Dreams,” Gallery Ersi, Athens 2016

MARIA GENITSARIOU IN THE MEDIA

[All articles, interviews, etc., featuring the artist in the media section, are located on the websites of the hosting media outlets and are in languages other than English]

ARTICLES ON THE ARTIST
Οι γραφές του ’21 -Παρουσίαση από την εικαστικό και καλλιγράφο Μαρία Γενιτσαρίου (Μάρτιος 2021, ηλεκτρονική έκδοση περιοδικού Αρχαιολογία)

Αισθήματα Χωρίς Τόπους | Μαρία Γενιτσαρίου: H μαγεία της ποίησης και της καλλιγραφίας (Νοέμβριος 2019, Arts & Antiques CCR)

P46 – Calligraphy 3 Ελληνικές γραμματοσειρές, μια γνώση που χάνεται (11ος-13ος αιών.) (Νοέμβριος 2018, EVENTORA)

INTERVIEWS
Μαρία Γενιτσαρίου: Μία εικαστικός για τον Λευκάδιο Χερν (Αύγουστος 2012, Lefkada News)