Vangelis Pliarides, an artist with a consistent thematic and stylistic orientation, instills an almost menacing atmosphere into his works. In the large map opened up by his painting, stretching from Laos to South Africa, from Sri Lanka and Burma to Greece, from Thailand to Cambodia and the Philippines, his imagery frequently draws on autobiographical elements. Tourists, hunters, tropical huts, boats and liquid bodies comprise the setting of different narrations. The journey and the visited lands, love, accidents, violence and tenderness, shattered men and women, life turned upside down, they all appear to serve as his inexhaustible source material. It turns out that our universe launches an all-out attack against the order and logic of what we call '"reality".
The experience of the actual journey –since the artist has regularly spent time in remote parts of the world– is the decisive factor in his different stance towards life, its ways, and the western worldview. In his work, art reemerges not as a descriptive universe, but as a representational enigma, an existential wager, a metaphysical challenge, an optical paradox, an anthropological menace.
In his new creations, Insomnia in Lemnos and Dieting at an advanced age, his hybrid forms evoke a revitalized surrealism, shifting the narration to a new subjectivity and building a new relationship with the codes of psychoanalysis. It is in the uncharted area where your future self may be hunting you down –as is the case with Dieting at an advanced age– that the self is put in the crosshairs of the representation.
In this way, the artist rejuvenates the symbolic repertoire of identity, by injecting it with high doses of vivacity and integrating to it the additional repertoire of difference. In a sense, he appears to awaken our nightmares, at the same moment that he evokes the hedonistic aspect of life.
The wild joy of his painting also redefines the concepts and shades of contemporary painting. The chapter that had opened triumphantly in the 1980s, in the wake of that period's enthusiastic embrace of abstraction as the champion of the freedom of gesture –while, paradoxically, identifying signs of degeneration of the faith in the modernism of such expressions– remains open.
MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections