The painterly world of Marilena Zamboura grew progressively over time, starting from the 1980s and her first exhibitions. Since then she has been (re-) shaping her own particular painterly physiognomy which requires some special keys to be decoded. A mature artist now, she continues to enrich or change the images and experiences that shaped her while adding elements from personal memories which are introduced into her work in a careful, reverent and often highly emotional way. Her subjects revolve around specific images, often to the point of obsession, and are constantly enriched. Her work incorporates moments which impressed, moved or even shook her.
The striking thing in the painting of Zamboura -a pure painting full of emotions- is the constant quest in sources which she has predetermined herself, perhaps unconsciously. These sources not only make up her enclosed and protected personal world but assume a symbolic and incessantly transmuting symbolic role.
It is these same elements we can trace in her works of the last three years (2005-2007): the isolation of images from a personal mythology and their reworking and incorporation into a new context through a continuous creative mobility. Zamboura has selected her painterly space: vague, fairy-tale yet familiar to herself. This space contains images and symbols that sometimes coexist and sometimes clash in a setting full of symbolisms which hover between reality and imagination.
Today, having established her own recognisable microcosm, she adds new elements from her vast emotional reserves to create new environments which broaden her scope for different interpretations of the content Her works always tell a story, yet the story can be read differently by each of us and this seems to be deliberate on the part of the artist The indefinite, transparent spaces in which the story of each work unfolds contain few recognisable elements (such as the imposing stairway, the chandelier, the windows and French doors, the tattered interiors), known from her earlier work. Each time, however, they are used on a different scale and perform another function, sometimes central and sometimes secondary, making up a suitable setting and acting as the ideal context The spaces she depicts are not selected at random: they are photos which convey fragments of a personal life (such as the interior of an derelict inter-war hotel, which appears in Zamboura’s work since 1988 (see Zamboura, exhibition catalogue, Athens 1988) or various other images from earth-shattering, impressive or even family moments which are isolated, transcribed and made to function in a new context (see Zamboura, exhibition catalogue; Thessaloniki 2006), thus creating multiple levels and different layers of buildings, interiors and strange landscapes.
The figures in these spaces play an important role but they are deliberately not turned into central heroes of these works; instead, they seem either to emerge through their dreamlike environment or to be trying to merge into it just like the places, the figures point to the familiar space of the painter, and the emphasis is on the design of the feces and their expression. Most of the figures assume various roles: they engage in dialogue (The conductor’s joy), are transformed (Equilibrium games, Events in the basement Double equilibrium), acquire symbolic dimensions (Open heart. Haste), merge into the space (Under the chandeliers) or remain stubbornly apart (He gave her the sky and the stars, The garden at Kampos).
Apart from the figures, the spaces are filled with elements which turn into symbols in the works of Zamboura. The toys are intertwined with memories while flowers, plants and dead trees with visible roots emerge from all around and alternate within the space, forming weird shadows or mentally accompanying the figures. Many of these are familiar, recognisable motifs, which seems to be a deliberate policy of Zamboura. The different outlook and usage invest the familiar motifs with a new dimension and create new levels for reading the works.
The space, so translucent vague and full of symbols, stands out for its vivid colours and its optimism. All the works in the exhibition have bright colours which, for all their deliberate transparency, remain strong, dazzling, omnipotent One can almost make out two groups of colours which dominate throughout these works and form two distinct chromatic categories: red and ochre, green and light blue. These dominant ranges are complemented by other colours as well, but it is still possible to classify the works under these two groups. Colour is used wisely and carefully, with little room for randomness. The mood that Zamboura wishes to convey and the atmosphere she inevitably creates needs these openings of colour, the concealed lights, the hard, inexplicable shadows and above all the transparencies.
Her painting, especially in recent years, has surrendered itself to the supremacy of colours, and this has led to works in which colour literally dominates and reveals at the same time. Indeed, while colour constitutes the power of first impressions, it actually becomes the framework, the context and the instrument which reveals all the other elements which ultimately determine each of her works.
IRINI ORATI ART HISTORIAN 2007