Artist of the Month May 2013


Maria Xagorari

Syros, Greece

Born in Greece, Maria Xagorari was raised in the bright light of the Aegean Sea. Her contact with the arts begun at an early age at the house of her grandfather, an art lover. In her early teens she had already decided that art was a one way street for her. In 1994 she was accepted in the Faculty of Fine Art of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, where she studied for five years. After a period of teaching art at the Graphic Design and Interior Decoration School of Dimitrelis Educational Group in Thessaloniki, she returned to her origin, the island of Syros, to dedicate to her painting.

Her subject matter has always been man and light. Her work she likes to define as expressionist realism. The first years after her graduation she produced a number of self portraits and portraits of friends, focusing on the expressive power of the gaze. As her art was maturing, she became interested in a more universal approach of the human condition and she turned to life size human figures, posing under the Greek sun, telling their own story of emotions. Her pictorial space is shallow, with her figures in primo piano like the Alto-relievo of the ancient Greek sculpture. The bright light and pure color in her painting relate to her loved Aegean land and seascapes.

She currently lives and works in Syros, Greece. She has worked in numerous projects of murals both in public and private buildings. Her work has been shown in numerous shows in Greece, Italy and Israel. Her paintings are found in private collections and the permanent collection of the Municipal Gallery of Ermoupolis.

How and when did you start creating art?

I have difficulty answering this question because I have been painting since I remember myself. Then at some point in my life I started recognizing a strong connection between the images I produced and the marks my experience of the world left upon me. When people started responding to this experience as such after having seen my work, I thought I might have succeeded to create what I call Art. I can’t put a date on that.

What media and genres do you work in?

So far I have been working on traditional painting media. I work with oil on canvas. I believe that pictorial means when mastered are an inexhaustible source of meaning and expression. However, I feel the need to produce series and not single, isolated paintings. And that is because I need to create what I call “pictorial installations”. That is environments consisting of a number of paintings by which the viewer is surrounded and drawn into.

Who or what are your influences?

If I should refer to influences as influences from artists, I could sum everything up by saying that have been influenced by every artist whose work has made me feel and think at the same time. If I should name some, I could say Paula Rego with her narrative, Anselm Kiefer with his immediate expression of meaning and feeling through matter, Ferdinand Hodler with his poetic symbolism which makes no compromise in the expense of good painting, Auguste Rodin whose work seems so realistic without being realistic at all, Panayiotis Tetsis with his use of light, Yiannis Moralis with his compositional severity which paradoxically set him free to the road for expression of feeling.

What was your inspiration for Phoenix and Tortoise?

My work is deeply connected to my own life and experience. Most of the times I only decipher the origin of my images after they have been made. So, what I have concluded about why I painted “Phoenix and Tortoise” is the following: There was time almost a year ago when sleeping infants on tortoises appeared in my work. The tortoises I could easily explain because five of them live in my garden and while watching them I found myself making thoughts about longevity, protection and the wisdom of slowness. The infants I felt like the symbols of fresh start but at the same time being the tragic figures who carry the weight of the past onto an uncertain future. As I was into this work and almost intimidated by the darkness it was flirting with, I happen to watch the 9year-old daughter of a good friend play with my tortoises. She was barefoot in my garden, glowing in her white summer dress and was moving in this natural environment with the confidence and the curiosity of youth who feels the world is there to discover, and this feeling has not yet been contaminated by the weight of history awareness. So, without my conscious understanding, she wiped away the sleeping infants and brought her optimistic light in my painting, which is more and more about rebirth and rediscovering in order to reinvent our way of being. I needed the tortoise because my Phoenix girl (this is how I named her) might be fresh and history unawares, but she needs to step on the shoulders of long life, slow experience which will be her protection and guidance.

Describe your creative process?

I am a figurative painter. This means that my paintings, apart from expressing feelings and meaning, depict objects. The process of choosing these objects is a non-rational one. They are mostly objects of my surroundings and in the recent years I have been choosing them as I walk to the sea or as I dig my garden or while I run long distances in the country where I chose to live. Then suddenly, images start forming in my mind in which these objects are protagonists. Then I, more often than not, go directly on canvas. Sometimes I might make a sketch to put down an idea, but then I know that a sketch has a life of its own and a painting based on the idea might take quite different steps. So, I go on canvas and I keep myself flexible. Like a dancer who dances with a new partner and has to lead but also be led through unexpected moves.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently working on a series of paintings about the force of violent interruption of life’s course and the eternal restart. The objects I have chosen (or better, have chosen me) are pruned grape vines. I witness the radical pruning and the stubborn rebirth with new power every spring, but also the signs of every single cut, eternally present on their old bodies, to mark how many times their growth was interrupted and had to change course. Among those grape vines, a little girl appears, shining in the sun. This will be my “Phoenix” series, an installation of paintings to form an environment of interruption and rebirth, with means of pictorial light and color.

What are your near/long term goals as an artist?

I only have one goal, whether near or long term. To manage to produce universally meaningful works in which the pure artistic means (color, form, material) will be the ones to make the works’ content perceivable in an indisputable way.

Where can people view/purchase your work (gallery, website, etc)?

My works can be seen/purchased through:


My personal website  

Argo Gallery, Athens, Greece:
Aenaon Gallery, Athens, Greece:
Saatchi On Line
Xanadu Gallery (Scottsdale, Arizona, US):

Open Imagination

Phoenix and Tortoise, oil on canvas, 80x150cm

Open Imagination

Guardia, oil on canvas, 70x180cm

Open Imagination

Angels, oil on canvas, 130x150cm

Open Imagination

Protection, oil on cardboard, 100x70cm

Open Imagination

Phoenix and Light, oil on canvas, 60x120cm

Artist Website
All Images @ Maria Xagorari
All Rights Reserved

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