The infinite point
The circle is made of millions of points that once placed side by side, form a line in a certain direction. The point is the beginning of any shape, and of an infinite number of possibilities. Petra Eiko makes her works based in the point, in the circle and its connect with viewers.
Petra Eiko is an artist who works with the source of all forms: the point. Her body of work is made up of this element as well as circles of all shapes and colors that are arranged in different ways. Her medium is clear plexiglass, to which she applies various layers of acrylic paint. She paints directly onto the sheet of plexiglass; however, she is currently experimenting with other ways to apply color to this surface, such as image transfer techniques.
This material, which is both transparent and reflective, possesses characteristics that interest the artist. This is because the material serves as a visual vehicle to show both internality and externality at the same time, while also showing emotionality and the real world, which are concepts that she is interested in tackling. Consequently, her work is highly geared towards the process and materials, since it requires a lot of patience and analysis. This is probably why Petra works from back to front, that is, she paints the first layer, and the successive layers, on the back of the acrylic sheet. She calls it “reverse painting”, since she has to start at the end in order to keep going back as she adds more layers of paint. In the end, the viewer finds themselves in front of a transparent plate that covers the painting, but they don’t see the amount of work there is on the back. Therefore, the process becomes a moment of personal reflection, of complete introspection, that reveals the innermost being of the artist.
She started to work with these elements and materials thanks to James Turrell, Lita Albuquerque and Christo, artists that she acknowledges as her sources of inspiration. “I got how I use light and space from Turrell’s installations, from Albuquerque, how I use color and materials, and from Christo, courage,” she says.
Despite at first glance the circle is a simple shape, its meanings are infinite. The same could be said about the point. “It is the beginning of all beginnings and it creates the circle. We see circles everywhere on earth and in the universe. They symbolize unity and can be a great force or subtle energy. They represent infinity, time and space. What could be more fascinating than this intricacy?” says the artist.
On the other hand, among her love of all circular, we can see that her work is related to the Eastern mandala, not just for how she uses it, but also due to its meaning. The word mandala means “circle”, and it is used as a means of relaxation and self-reflection in order to find inner peace as it is being made. Petra uses this work system obtaining the images from the essence of her being, which makes her work very personal and intimate. The artist invites us to see beyond the obvious and reflect on her work in order to discover its hidden meanings. She seeks a private moment with the viewer and a personal connection where she is able to tell her story.
Within this multiplicity of way through which Petra incorporates the circle into her work, we can see the vast number of trips that has taken, which have given her the privilege of getting to know different cultures. As a result of her travels, the artist created the–Green–heart project, whose aim is to promote tolerance among people, as well as a sense of unity and community among everyone that inhabits this planet. “I start by asking them a simple question: What is in your heart? The project encourages them to participate by creating visual representations that answer that question. This shows that we essentially have similar desires, challenges and dreams, no matter where we come from, our race, sex and age,” she explains.
The project started in 2009 and so far thousands of people have participated who, together, create a monumental piece that is shown in exhibitions throughout the world. “The participants exceeded my every expectation. They added their personal expressions, wisdom and small works of art anonymously, since joining the project and taking the opportunity connect once again with what was in their hearts.” The work was so well-received by the public that in 2010 she started a side-project for high schools.
Petra’s work grabs your attention through its colorfulness and apparent simplicity, but at the same time it is full of hidden meanings that are an invitation to the viewer to unravel their mysteries. Her work speaks for itself and has an undoubtedly complicated and well-thought out process and background. Eiko’s work is like a “window” to the artist’s heart making a direct reference to the–Green–heart project.