So what is it that these women, shut in, are waiting for? Their faces conceal more than they reveal by their expression. Their half-nude bodies seem available, as if made for waiting. Around them is all this space with miscellaneous objects for everyday use, as if they have lost their gravity, as if they are hovering in the fluidity of the space, which abolishes distances and distorts perspectives.
Is it perhaps the space of dream, the Freudian territory of the unconscious? Perhaps the shoes are not shoes? Perhaps the handbag is not a handbag? Perhaps the objects have been invested with the status of fetishes? Perhaps some expert in the rules of grammar and syntax of psychoanalysis could explain to you exactly why that 20-euro note is where it is, what complex put the cigarette packet in precisely this position?
Perhaps the fascination of the picture extends no further than the symbolic potential of the people, the objects, the space itself? The truth is that things would be very simple if it were only like this.
Because it is at this point that the real interest of the work of Pavlos Samios begins: at precisely the point where the symbolic potential of the unconscious meets with another, the symbolic potential of this art which is called painting, which has its own rules of grammar and syntax, has its own ways of transforming people and things, of distorting space in a way entirely its own.
The erotic glance always serves as a distorting mirror, it expands, shrinks, dilates upon, condenses, follows its own narrative tenses. Even when it can’t find its expression. The voice in lovemaking loses its words, becomes a whisper, a moan, a sigh. The eye doesn’t pick out features and proportions. The eye identifies points of tension; it is fixated, trapped.
And painting serves to capture this way of looking at the moment when its world traps it, when the bodies sacrifice their proportions on the altar of a tension which finds its pattern and its form on the surface of the picture. The bodies of the women take shape through the distorting mirror of a gaze which touches the surfaces to confess its inwardness, like that half-open door in the background from which a little light enters. And this is their beauty.
As to the miracle – because there is no creation without a certain miracle – this is now visible to the naked eye: time is identified with space, in the space of the bodies which remain shut in together with their grammar of dream; a closed time, a time made only of the present belongs to them.
Someone else could go back, to the beginning of the 1970s or even earlier to find this woman’s handbag, these slippers, the atmosphere of the brothel. He could talk about the anxieties of the first time, about the shyness involved, about the mechanically repeated movements. At one time Neo-Realism tried to dramatise all this. It produced some works which may have evoked emotion, but they always seemed to be talking about something else, they were always looking elsewhere, as if hiding their embarrassment in the face of these enclosed spaces, of the absolute present of the time, the availability of the body, the mechanical movements.
In a certain way all this is clear, and when you set out to explain it, you begin to besmirch it with hypotheses which are alien to it.
Our ancient ancestors may have been right when they took brothels for temples and the women for priestesses of Aphrodite. And it is this sacredness which the eye of the painter is attempting to locate. Painting does not explain, does not interpret – in defiance of conceptual tedium. Painting seizes on moments of looking in order to bring out their significance. And this is its sacredness.
Because in the end, what remains from the work of Pavlos Samios, over and above the sense of these women’s bodies, of this space which appears on the cusp of inwardness, of this time which remains enclosed in the present, what remains is the certainty of a robust painting which reveals its forms with the simplicity of the gaze which is immersed in the world of dream.