Atelier Portable


Curated by Efie Falida

Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Athens



Atelier Portable: thought and artwork in a breath


Mid last summer, Eva Mitala started working on the idea of ​​exhibiting a new body of work she produced over the last two years. The starting point was a series of うちわ = uchiwa (Japanese fans), mementos she kept from her travels in Japan. The initial plastic object carried the artistic process, creating space for reconstruction, reforming spontaneously, knitting, twisting, composing her sculptures. It was July when her name appeared on my cell phone. I was in Syros. She was in Hydra. After we rediscovered the thread of our common love for Japanese culture  she started explaining me her first thoughts on how she could show her works at Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, the associations inspired the thought of a book. 


For the following months of our collaboration, the French poet Paul Claudel’s book: One Hundred Phrases for Japanese Fans would be our magical meeting place. Cent phrases pour éventails  is a  collection of hundred and seventy-two haiku collection, written by Paul Claudel between June 1926 and January 1927, while he was the French Ambassador in Tokyo. The Greek translation of the book was by Thanasis Hatzopoulos published by Gavriilidis in 2002. The greek translation of the book is a rare item that is difficult to find.


Eva's airy éventails (fans), and the process of transforming them into sculptures, would find many ways to expand between Claudel's verses, and spread into any space she created them in, under a special condition. Since I met her, many years ago, Eva was constantly on the move, anxious, curious, traveling, managing to transfer her universe and her artworks to different countries and cities of the world. She started working on some of her ventalias (fans) almost two years ago, initially in Hydra, and completed the works in her studio in Athens. 


In order to make her work  visible, we have to emphasize the process which characterizes the state in which she works. Being in a nomadic vigilance: wherever she is, she turns the space into her studio. Atelier Portable presents  this condition. It is the improvised portable reconstruction of the artistic process that stays with us. 

Drawing upon Paul Claudel’s poetry collection: Cent phrases pour éventails, the artist invites us to Atelier Portable, an experience she carries with her. The ventalias (fans) made of bronze, copper, wax and plastic are a reflection, negotiating the interplay between the material and the immaterial, as well as the notion of the corporeality of forms interacting with an intangible trace of air that drifts imperceptibly: Éventail, De la Parole du poète il ne reste plus que le souffle.


Eva Mitala in her portable atelier processes her personal experience in the East into an inner microcosm rich in handcrafted poetry, whose aspects and segments have been invoked from places along her path. Traces of her experience in San Francisco (2020) and Athens (2021) are accrued in her artworks, unraveling silent memories, thoughts and shapes of a breath, inviting us to dialogue with them, as well as to feel them and decipher them.


Our discussions about her portable studio took place at different times and places, bringing up details of her journey as well as her relationship with Japan. These dialogues  were recorded in the form of a discussion and provided the material for the next phase. The book. In this book, our conversations in Patision Street explain the transition of Atelier Portable to a new exhibition form. For this second part of the exhibition - in the same gallery space, Ileana Tounta - Eva Mitala talks about how Vipassana meditation  (10 days silent retreat ) revealed the vision of the second installation.

Claudel sees l’éventail as poems written in one breath. The artist in the practice of meditation gathers her mind in her own breath and new aspects of Atelier Portable become visible.


Efie Falida

Ermoupolis / Athens, 2021-2022