The tree depicted in my works is the olive-tree. An approach to the olive requires particular respect. It is a tree that lives for centuries and is completely interwoven with the Greek landscape. The harsh Greek light brings its shape into relief, lending a symbolic dimension to the whorls of its trunk and branches.

Up to now in my work I have been anthropocentric. I believe I came to the olive-tree through a lack of available models. In the olive I found a willing model. It is in many ways similar to the human body. It has character and personality. Its trunk is formed as a function of time, the weather conditions and the slope of the land. Nevertheless no trunk is the same as the one next to it.

I begin by selecting the trunk that impresses me the most. A detailed on-site sketch may take hours or even days. This enables me to get to know the tree better, to study its slant, the light that flows over its mass, the shadows formed in its recesses. The truth is that no matter how many visits you make to the place where it lives and exists, you will never know it well enough. The olive has hidden secrets of the centuries, and this is what makes it so magical.

Afterwards the work moves into the studio. A good result in the engraving depends upon the choice and preparation of the suitable wood. Now the chisel takes the place of the pencil. With sharp tools I try to carve the sketch of the tree on the surface of the wood. But now I have no eraser. Errors cannot be corrected. The work is time-consuming and laborious. Stress and anxiety are part of the game and often the work evolves in my absence. Free woodcarving has its risks.

Satisfaction comes when I see the tree “breaking free” of the surface and projecting its mass outward from the flatness of the wood. You can let your fingers caress the grooves as they would the furrowed bark of the tree itself. Besides, this is also my purpose: that the representation be not merely a drawing but to approach as closely as possible the texture of the tree itself. Wood upon wood.

Dimitra Gounari

Painter - Engraver

Graduated on painting and engraving at the Athens School of Fine Arts - at the Abbaye de la Cambre, Brussels - Engraving diploma at the Athens School of Fine Arts.

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