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Multifaceted artist, painter, sculptor, and textile designer, panikArt (Cristina Papanikas) lives and works in Cagliari, Italy. Passionate about theater and scenography, she began her activity as a painter with the need to express herself through pencil drawing and then continued with the study of color and material on canvas, wood, and silk.

She loves to explore the relationship between music and painting, in search of the ideal fusion between sound and color, rhythm, and pictorial gesture. As a live painting performer, she collaborates with musicians in creating stage costumes and musical settings. Most of her abstract paintings are made with the use of the spatula, a tool that allows her to obtain expressive force in the pictorial gesture.

During several years she has been modeling iron and aluminum to create her “ometti”, stylized human figures, portrayed in all their solitude and intimacy, dreamy beings, absorbed in their own thoughts, sometimes alienated. By the use of these techniques, she collaborated with Italian Women’s Basketball League creating prize sculptures dedicated to some opening days of championships. Her artistic sensibility led her to experiment with painting on silk and natural fibers with which she creates fashion accessories and home furnitures.

Her mission is to recreate on silk, light and delicate fiber, the same expressive force of form and color obtained in her paintings.

Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.

Cristina: In my work, I have to use many materials, as many as I need to express myself. It all begins with painting with acrylic colors. My favorite tool is the spatula, a delicate and sharp tool. I usually make my own spatulas of various sizes depending on the effect I want to obtain. Flexible spatulas, for example, allow me to obtain certain results that I could not achieve with most of the spatulas available on the market. I paint on layers: I add and I remove. With regards to sculpture, I often use iron wire and galvanized steel to create my “little men”, stylized human figures representing the individual in a pure and direct way: man and his alienation but also man and his most primordial dreams. The stylized human figure is the achievement of my goal: a man in his pure essence.

What is the message you are trying to give with your art?

Cristina: To be honest I never thought I need to send a message through my way of making art. For me, it is a necessity, a purely selfish action. My first purpose, in fact, is to indulge the desire of making visible, on the outside, what was, at first, on my mind. Each work is a sort of birth. Mine is certainly a message of freedom and respect: when watching a painting the observer should be free to feel or not any emotion, free to reinterpret it making it his own, free to personalize it through his own wealth of experience, his mood of the moment. In this way, the painting will take on thousands of facets and will continue to live over time thanks to the different perceptions of the observers. For this reason, I prefer not to title my works: words are so powerful means of expression that they could influence the observer. I don’t want to say it, but I want to suggest it.

What challenges have you faced in your creative work?

Cristina: Living with art, this is the biggest challenge. No certainty in exchange for freedom. No guarantee for the freedom I take when I do what I want most every single day, without being a slave to the dictates of the moment. I do not ask myself what will be trendy next year, as some of my colleagues do… It’s a sort of a pact that daily renews among fears and euphoria. A swing of sensations. An insecure balance. A whirlwind that can give and take away the right thing to keep you there …

What music do you listen to while creating your artwork, and how it influences your artwork?

Cristina: I like to space in music. I am very humoral in this too. I listen to and grow fond of what thrills me. When music can stab me with no pity and go through my ears to my stomach in a blink of an eye or when I feel a special energy flowing in my veins together with blood, then I understand that it’s for me the best moment to produce interesting works. This happens, for example, when I listen to Radiohead, the band that accompanied me for many years during my creative processes. Truth be told, I believe that most of my abstract paintings have been made while listening to music. Bjork, for example, but also classical and concert music. I love opera
and powerful female voices. I mean I don’t like a light soprano, I prefer the dramatic ones. Music has shapes and colors as painting has.

You’ve collaborated with Italian Women’s Basketball League, can you tell us a bit more about that experience?

Cristina: Every year the Italian Women Basketball League organizes a big event for the opening day, the first day of the annual championship when all the teams gather and compete in the same city; On these occasions, during the gala Evenings prestigious prizes are held to the best coach and to the best manager of the year. For some of these editions, I created my stylized sculpture-prizes in iron that portray, with melancholic but ironic expressions, players captured in dynamic actions during a match. They are 12 to 15 cm miniatures.

How has your art evolved over the years?

Cristina: Years pass by and life experiences grow, but luckily, the need to experiment remains the same. As I look back I realize I have reached a bigger level of self-confidence in the practical and design sphere. Yes, I do design more sketching my projects on paper in black and white. I was used to doing it in the past and I still do it now with increased awareness. Painting is a constant presence in my life. Today, beyond paintings on canvas, I experiment with new materials. I have found my passion for painting on natural fibers. I paint on long shawls with maturity and awareness. Painting on silk requires a level of patience that I hadn’t before: no mistakes are allowed. In some way, I can say that it is an oriental and meditated approach to art. Beforehand, thinking over the design is necessary as there is no turning back! Over time I have discovered a strong interest in textile painting. We need to talk, in some cases, about real discipline. Obviously, when painting on silk I cannot use the spatula, although it is my favorite tool. It is possible to use brushes, but my biggest challenge is to obtain the same expressive strength of line and color on the stoles which I can obtain on canvas. I enjoy taking pictures of my stoles while flying in the air, dangling like colored clouds. Silk has an interesting, soft, and tangible texture yet unexpected resistance. It has an ethereal and feminine taste that I try to immortalize through photography.

What’s your favorite artwork?

Cristina: “Pure” – acrylic on a wooden table, painted years ago, marks a fundamental way of my growth and artistic awareness.

Un amore sospeso nell’infinito

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Cristina: Last summer I organized an art exhibition in a small square room. I wanted people to be catapulted into an intimate, introspective, and personal dimension. To make this process easier headphones were available to broadcast in loops music by Argo Part and Tchaikovsky on which I had recorded sounds taken from NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission that measured electromagnetic waves and plasma fluctuation. The atmosphere was magical, but unfortunately, not everyone was able to enjoy that little spiritual journey because of the reduced space. The exhibition was conceived as an event that would interact with space. It had to be visited in solitude, one person at a time. It was necessary to become an integrated part of the environment, invoking a feeling of being covered by the red and the black of the paintings, surrendering to the slow circular movements of the iron and steel sculptures. The last day of the exhibition a man, who was visibly moved, came over to me thanking me because I had given him an experience he had never lived before: he felt he had flown! He told me that he felt exceptionally light as if he had been carried into another unknown and timeless dimension. He kept holding my hand thanking me and saying that he would never forget his intense sense of deep wellness yet unsettling whirlwind feelings. The look of the man and the intensity of his grasp, more than words, is the reactions I cling to.

You have a very diverse portfolio. What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?

Cristina: My portfolio is indeed wide. To have a thorough look you can visit my Instagram profile called @panikart is a window in the world.  I also have a web page that is used to showcase my paintings https://www.panikart.com/ Furthermore, I have a Facebook page that is available from the following link https://www.facebook.com/papanikascristina/ and, as regards my artistic handicrafts, I have opened my shop at the following link https://www.etsy.com/shop/panikArtBoutique

Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?

Cristina: As a result of Covid-19, an interesting venture took place centering around a popular virtual exhibition that had one rule: artwork had to be shown in one’s own lockdown place. I showed an artistic installation, a stylized man painted on a big sheet holding a real sewn mask in one hand and various colored balloons in the other. I knew from this experience something real I had been born that can be visited in the art gallery of Sassari in June.

Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?

Cristina: Creativity for its own sake is very important to me. Building or painting is a need, I must do it for myself. Behind my paintings, my sculptures, and my texture design works there is always the desire to search for balance and beauty.

Thank you!

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