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Street stories: Life like a painting

01 May 2010 / 11:05:07  GRReporter
5097 reads

Emanuela Karastoyanova


Catherine Lemodeti is an artist from Latvia. Her story is a classic and touching at the same time. It is a prove that if fate decided to has a thing to say it can always do it, everywhere and without error. Catherine came one summer on vacation in the island of Crete. She has no idea that the choice of site will be fateful and that the ticket she bought would be a one way ticket... It turns out that the summer and the island of Crete hold her luck in their hands. But they wish her to be here on this land. The present which they make to her can not be returned... On the island is waiting for her, her better half, Yannis. Thus, although only 19 years old Katerina remains in Greece. Here she lives and works until today.

Life in Greece started for me over 12 years ago. I was born in Latvia in the town of Bauska. There I graduated from high school. At the age of 19 I found myself in Greece. It was quite accidental. See how good are the accidental things? They are like the joker. At the age of 19 one usually does not think about a marriage nor about any who knows how serious matters. It happened, however. I came to Crete, where people from all across northern Europe are coming. On the island I met my husband and I stayed here. I did not go back. Some people say to me, you were only 19 years old, were you not scared? Well, at the age of 19 years old one is still mature. It is a fact that in these years we are usually highly related with our families. But still a person is at an age, in which one decides what to do with his life. Since my man was here and we both felt good here, there was no reason to look for more things in life. And I knew that relationships sometimes fail because of the distance. So I decided that I will stay.

I believe that you either take the chance or not. In the life of each person not too many chances are given. Some people say: “I had no chance in my life”. This is not true. You were given chances, but you do not take advantage of them.

For the beginning I fought with enormous nostalgia. It was very difficult for me, I lived through a culture shock. The North is quite different from the South. If you go north from the north it is one thing. It is different thing when you go from north to south. My husband helped me a lot to adjust. He was at all times next to me in the true sense. The beginning was really difficult. The language sounded like Chinese. It did not sound to me like any other language. It is important however, how the person next to you has the patience to translate all the time.

Evidently from the perspective of time today I think he showed a great deal of patience. "What does this man say?" What's that saying? "- I was constantly asking him at that time. Adaptation and learning the language took their time. The studio also helped me a lot. Thanks to it little by little I began to have my own friends, people with interests similar to mine.

Living here I had to do something, I was starting a new life. I am an artist by education. But no artist makes exhibitions from the first day you begin to paint. A lot of hard work is needed. Only when time passes you realize that you have a specific and comprehensive work that you can show to the people. With my husband we decided that since I did not work anywhere I must do something that I like. This was a conversation that lasted 5-10 minutes. So I started looking for a studio, in which I could deal with drawing. In the beginning it all seemed like a great mountain, which had to pass. However, I found a studio near our house and so my relation with painting started again. I will keep from you, it is one thing a person thinks about - where to start from? In the beginning I was even in panic. But then things started to get in order. And so 12 years passed ...

I think that what started my love for painting was a notebook and a pencil. I remember that when I was young at school I was drawing various small things in the fields of my notebooks. And to this day I still keep some of my books. There you can still see my miniature drawings.

Keep in mind that if I was working in Latvia my pictures might have been different. Many things are influenced by the daily life of people. People say that my paintings are complex, with lots of movement and specific colors. And I named my present exhibition "Roots", because some things have a connection with my roots. I say to all “People! See what we are living through right now. This is one big mess!” I am talking about the stress and tension of everyday life. Everyone rushes permanently somewhere. Many things from our daily lives, however are intertwined. This can also be seen in the relationships between people. How this whole system is rotating. It is always in motion. Nothing is the same, everything changes. The color changes, the matter and the nature of things. I think all this is reflected in my paintings.

Every day so many things are happening in Athens and in Greece as a whole! Too bad we do not have time to see all the exhibitions that are organized. I dare say that in Greek art there are many valuable things.

A thing that particularly impressed me was the fact that when I showed some of my pictures in Latvia I was told that the colors are very dark. It really surprised me at first. Then I realized why my paintings are of such colors. Because of the light in Greece. Here, with this bright sun, which is everywhere you can comfortably use dark colors. While the north needs colors. In most of the year the weather is gray. In their everyday life there, people need more sunny colors. Here people wear much darker colors.

Practically when you create you do not think about anything else. I am so much focused on the process of searching. Every time I feel like my mind is traveling somewhere, that it is not here. I see many things in my imagination. In my mobile phone I keep endless number of pictures of things I saw and inspired me. I don’t use all of them in my works, but I shoot them.

And if I had stayed in Latvia maybe I would not have done what I did here. I could not tell you how my life would look like or my work if I had stayed there. Maybe even I would not have done anything of what I've done so far here. Who knows. I might have not had the chance to paint as I do now. I think we can not say what would be our fate if we were not in this but in another country. If we could know such things probably we would not be doing also what we do now. Maybe we would have been trying to keep ourselves through other choices. This nobody knows. But Greece is certainly a country where your heart is opening...

In my experience the difference between the north and the south is great. In the north things are standard and are known. Having said that we will meet at 20.00 o’clock, this means that we will meet exactly at 20.00 o’clock. Certainly we will not be late. In the south things are calmer. People are more carefree. They do not worry about such petty things. In the north we are more formal in many aspects. Over time I see that here it is better. There is stress also here, but it is different from the stress of the north.

Not long ago a friend of ours from American once asked us: “Are we going to the Acropolis tomorrow?” I answered to him: “We'll see.” And this is a response that only one Greek can give. The American thought and asked: “What does this mean we'll see? Yes or no?” It was like this for two days. On the third he said: “People tell me yes or no.” We explained to him that in Greece things are unforeseeable. Today, they close off the center, tomorrow there will be a marathon, and on the third day there will be something else. Constantly something is happening. It is for a fact that life here is never boring. One is not like a fixed machine every day knowing exactly what awaits him. That he would wake up, go to work, and will do this or that.

Today I feel comfortable here. The climate plays an important role. Because as you wake up in the morning and it is cold and frost everywhere what exactly are you supposed to think? You are closing up in yourself. And this is reflected not only on you but on your relationships with people. As you wake up in Greece, however and you see the sun shining why shouldn’t you be in a good mood? How much easier it is for people here to just start a conversation and how much warmer they are.

I have so many dreams. But everything has its time. And what does not work out, it is for good. Maybe later, in a more appropriate time it will happen.

Nowadays I miss the most my family and my brothers who are in Latvia. Otherwise, here I am accustomed to everything. With the fact that, the matters related to the documents are not quite right, with the fact that people are late... I think that when people decide to live in a country they have no other choice but to adapt to the system.

Generally to all the Greeks I would wish to be well. Times are hard, and major changes are happening. Clearly, when one has problems in their daily lives they do not think about art and will not go to an exhibition. I hope that it will all be over soon. I wish to the people here to find a way to deal with the situation and things to finally settle down.

Tags: Catherine Lemodeti roots artist Athens street stories
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