The work of the Greek-born, London-based artist Kalliopi Lemos has always erred on the polemic side. Her 2013 installation I am I, Between Worlds and Between Shadows, for instance, depicted half female, half animal steel sculptural beings, maimed and displayed in an abandoned lyceum to highlight human rights abuses the world over.
Her latest exhibition, 'In Balance' at London's Gazelli Art House, takes a calmer approach to an innate struggle known to all: namely our daily battles in an increasingly pressurised world.
'Balance is connected with the meaning of gravity,' explains Lemos. 'If we think for a minute about scales, there is a point along an axis where it is connected with the ground, with the Earth. On either end of this axis there are two different objects that are balancing themselves against each other, like two children sitting on a seesaw in a playing ground, experimenting with their weight and force against one another.'
From the beginning her work makes reference to the dualities and pressures of life; the psychological and physical pain one suffers in the quest for a conscious existence. Large seed-like sculptures fill the lower gallery floor, each seemingly on edge and ready to tip over. 'I am concerned with the inner balance of the human being,' she explains, 'our vulnerability and our defences, our struggles and tensions and how we deal with them to try and maintain equilibrium.' The scale sculptures in particular allow visitors to engage with their different weights and positions, trying to strike a balance within the physical constraints imposed by the artist.
Seeds are a recurring motif in Lemos' career, appearing time and time again in different iterations, materials and colours. Here they take shape using reeds, aluminium and bright yellow skins or stainless steel structures. 'The meaning of the seed, the miniature element within which all life is contained, really fascinates me,' explains Lemos. 'For me, it represents the creation, the world with all its miracles.'
Lemos’ award-winning video At the Centre of the World (2015) features in the exhibition too, depicting a woman trapped inside a cage-like iron sphere, struggling to escape and forced to accept her situation. Her steel sphere is on display on the upper gallery, lending its own dark counterbalance to the relative brightness of the seeds below.