ATHENS, GREECE | Painting
Olga Stamatiou was born in New York City and began painting in 1967. This relatively late start to her artistic career followed the discovery of painting as a vehicle for cathartic personal expression. At the age of eighteen, she lived with relatives in Athens, Greece. It was there in the heady, intellectually charged, and artistically-vibrant atmosphere of the mid-1960’s that she began her formal artistic education. She was studying with the painter Ilias Dekoulakos. She remained in Greece until 1976, when she returned to the United States and embarked on further studies at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts, where she received her BFA and MFA degree in painting. She also completed a graduate program in Art Therapy at the Metropolitan College of Boston University. She lived in America for the next 20 years, exhibiting and working in the United States. In 1997, she returned to Greece with her husband to live and paint once again. During that time, she had exhibitions in Athens, Greece, and Nice, France.
In 2008 back in the US, she and her husband started a nonprofit company called Seewall Child which built and installed interactive art-based installations free of charge in crisis centers for children. They have won a 2007 Society in Arts in Healthcare Blair Sadler Award. It was said to be one of the most innovative arts projects demonstrating a compelling impact on the quality of the healthcare experience for patients, their families, and caregivers.
Due to the coronavirus, Seewall-Child had to close its doors for public safety for all.
Olga once again returned to Greece and continues to create, paint and work with children.
“One day, a long time ago, I retreated into my room and began to paint. It was an intuitive act, based on the need to express emotions and thoughts, and as in most actions followed by intuition, it was the best choice of my life and has become my closest companion.
Color is my passion and my primary vehicle of artistic expression. I feel color so intensely that it intoxicates me. When I first saw a Van Gogh painting, I drooled—exhilarated as the colors were powerfully rich and luscious. What an experience! Then later, after looking at a Rothko, I was transported to a different place, a peaceful meditative state of beautiful inner-light experience.
Color is profoundly subliminally effective. It can elevate you to many different states, and like music, it can calm you, excite you, inspire you, take away your pain, make you feel good, lift your spirits and bring you to another frame of mind. Its vibratory force can influence human behavior and is incredibly healing when used effectively.
Imagine a world without color. Color should not be feared but embraced, for it can reveal many amazing things to the human psyche.
Art is as much an expression of my own inner life and my struggle to maintain equilibrium as it is about my observations of the world around me. From the marching mushrooms to the sensual tango dancers, from the quiet wisdom of a giant tabby cat to the intense trapped energy of the “burqa ladies,” it is a metaphor for life on 21st Century Planet Earth and the cry of that small inner voice inside us, aching to be heard.
As I paint, I am aware of a predominant tension between light and dark and between the ebb and flow of life force present in all creatures and their greatness. I love the process of painting, of letting layers appear and express themselves, of digging and digging to find elements that beg to be exposed. It is pure joy to work through the tension and get to the light, on the other side of the darkness that exists, really, in all of us.
I have always had a fascination with folds, veils, drapes, curtains, and of course, color. My palette can be rich, sophisticated, and bold. It can reveal a tenderness of the spirit or a sense of alienation or isolation. But however it emerges, color is the primary vehicle of my artistic expression, setting the mood and nudging the reasons to the realization that we all are similar. I want my viewers to see a part of their spirit in my work and understand how connected we are in a tiny quiet moment. Although I address my work with purpose and seriousness, there is an edgy quirkiness, a whimsical twist to everything I paint. With tongue firmly in cheek, I strive to address the issues that confront us and elicit at least a wry smile from the observer. Purity, clarity, and peaceful silence: reflected in my paintings is what I am trying to find in my life.”