One night before leaving Patmos.
I was walking. I turned my gaze and it became fixated on her Art.
I knew her even though we had never met before.
Her creations dragged me inside her atelier. A “karma” dragged me in.She smiled at me warmly.
I felt this over-excitement that you feel when you enter a place where you like everything.
I was overwhelmed by an unprecedented familiarity. I started to try on her creations, to examine and inspect them.
I gently touched one of her bracelets.
And she came next to me.
I was wearing a head band. This headband that would bring us closer.
She was wearing a long, breathtaking caftan.
A pair of “unsteady” earrings.
And a bracelet that was one with her skin.
Her hair was pulled back. It had this gold-blondish hue, like honey… This unique colour that changes depending on the light…If I had to use only one adjective to describe her it would be “colorful”.
She is “wearing” all the colours and they all match perfectly. ..
And yes, the element of colour is an integral part of her art.
The “temperatures” of the colours, their shades, the way she blends them, the secret agreement with the design from each piece of art, becomes self-evident in all her art.
She handles the colours with an unprecedented courage.
She creates collages, assemblages, sculpture pieces and large-scale works.
She uses everything she can find as material and she always “exploits” the “leftovers” from previous works. As she often claims, there is pretty much nothing that has only one use.
I think it’s one of the few times that I have seen artistic courage and an eccentric approach exuding such class.
An avant-garde class and an originality that hides within it hints of tradition and memory.
As if she took the past to paint it in order to deliver it to the future.
And her works are timeless. You could have inherited one from your grandmother, but one might also be hanging in MOMA in 2030.
Some specialists classify her in the Abstract Art, while others in Art Brut, in the sense that she has little or no contact with the mainstream art world and art institutions, such as schools of fine arts, museums and galleries. This Outsider Art, which today does not include only creations of artists with some psychological disturbance, but on the contrary includes the creations of those artists who are seeking originality and innovation both through their techniques and the materials they use.
I would just call her “arty”. She is a form of art.
Her pieces. Her words. Her syntax. You can bet there is no randomness behind it.
Her voice disturbed the silence.
“This one really suits you well. Seriously, how tall are you? This is for you. It fits with your smile. I love your style and this headband. Let me see it. You know what? You really match with everything I create. Take whatever you want”. She said all this with a certainty and an honesty that broke the ice of awkwardness of this first meeting.
“Do you create all these? Are you Katerina Mourati?”
And the singular tripped the plural and covered the distance and it brought us closer.The truth is that I had the wrong impression, I believed that Katerina Mourati would live isolated in an atelier, cut off and detached from everyday life.
And yet she was there, alive and simple.
That night I had organised a dinner 30 minutes later.
But I stayed at her atelier all night.
One conversation flowed into the next one. People were coming and going yet I was still there.
I kept saying that I would stay for five more minutes and yet somehow I stayed until the atelier closed for the night. 4-5 hours later.
She brought some tsipouro.
And then other people came and sat down with us.
And we became one. One with the locals. With people with whom we were complete strangers five minutes before.
This is Greece and her beautiful nights.
We said so much.
Like I knew her for years. Isn’t it magical to meet someone that you are sure that you have met before? This couldn’t be our first meeting.
And we said so many things.
About this life.
About faith. About what lies afterwards.
How do you fit so many things in a conversation between two people who were strangers a few short hours ago?
But who is Katerina Mourati?
She began painting at the age of twenty, when she first arrived in Patmos. Her first designs were on her cigarette packs while she was sitting in the square at Thanasis’s cafe. At the time she was smoking “Rekor” by Karelia. Her talent was discovered by the companion of her life at the time, whom she also met in Patmos. He introduced her to the world of art in a philosophical and abstract way. At the same time he didn’t let her, until her 25th birthday, to visit museums even though they were travelling to throughout Europe. He believed that a talent like hers should not be polluted by outside influences.
The first opening that she ever attended was of her own exhibition in 1987 at the Stavrakas residence. She was the first artist to have exhibited in Patmos with the support of the abbot of that period Isidore Krikris and Efthalia Kostandinidi.
“I have a long history of artistic and personal life in Patmos, it feels as if Patmos was the thread on which everything was knit.”
And I couldn’t hold myself, at some point in our correspondence I asked her about Patmos. About this unique Patmos that you can only experience but not describe.
“I did not choose to live in Patmos. Patmos chose me. Patmos chooses. Because of the vibrations of the island, from the persistent religious discourse, the island has a sanctity which, in order to experience it, one must cast away bad thoughts and anger. With the help of nature’s observation, the rocks, the sea water and the architecture of the Chora, the changes in color, and prayer, one can achieve an internal cleansing that leads to a calm contemplation of life and its issues.”
And you feel it that she is an original artist.
“An artist is a person who finds his own route, while discovering himself. An artist is born that way, you can not “create” an artist, it’s a state of DNA, as if you’re carrying something from your own birth that has to get a physical image, get a form, be given a voice and motion. It is something like a “healthy illness,”. You might live in this world but at the same time there is a great distance from it. The moment that I find as an artist the form and the shape that really connects with me, which happens after a very long and demanding process, starting from something simple, at that very moment, a chemical process occurs bonding it with something else distant and undefined. It is an inner satisfaction that can only be linked to an erotic physical state of trance. Even the face of an artist changes these moments, it’s like having gained the eternal youth, the ultimate purity”.The Alphabet “of Patmos” by Katerina Mourati
I gave to Katerina these 24 verbs and she created her own sentences and thoughts. Her personal code … Her wonderful colorful world.
-I flirt with genuine males
-I make my living through my art
-I enchant intelligent people
-I spend on useless objects
-I invade unwittingly the thoughts of others.
-I approach the flowers
-I feel calm when I want to
-I admire the shapes of nature
-I level intentional rudeness
-Ι subjugate my disobedience
-Ι desert when more energy is required than I want to expend
-I study the trivial that presents itself as “a lot”…
-I feel centered
-Ι skim the marmalade.
-Ι stamp out the unnecessary ambition
-I violate the verbal rules
-I risk verbally for the smart line that follows
-I get up early in the morning
-Ι rarely laze about
-I remind myself of the goal of my inner life
-I reveal the secrets of life that I’m allowed to
-I gild laces
-Ι get excited intentionally
Ι feel subordinated in front of the miracle of life
Katerina Mourati was born in Veria in 1962 and grew up in Piraeus. At the age of 20 she came to Patmos where she discovered her artistic talent and developed it with discipline, leading to her first solo exhibition on the island in 1987. Her second solo exhibition took place in Brussels in 1991, where the well-known art critics Stephan Rey and Anita Nardon, classified her artwork as Art Brut. Individual exhibitions followed in Astrolavos, the French Institute of Thessaloniki, the Athens College Theater (organized by the Jewish Museum of Greece), as well as group exhibitions in Greece and abroad. In 1999, she moved to Germany, where she lived for ten years developing new ideas and techniques, working as an artist at minority schools for immigrant and refugee integration programs funded by the Ministry of North Rhine Westphalia. In 2010 she returned to Patmos where she lives year round, setting up her own workshop and gallery in Chora, just before the Holy Monastery of the island. Her work is classified as outsider art and is studied in Greece by the poet and scholar of the avant-garde Christos Chanakas.
…It was already too late. Her laughter echoed in the sky of Patmos. It has the genuine gargling sound that is common amongst those who do everything with all their heart and soul.
“I am the only one who knows the mantra of my life.”
You shouldn’t believe that she shares everything with everybody. She always keeps one more story for the next time.
“I know from the very beginning if I will give my heart or not”.