Aris Kalaizis


In Stefanie Heese's dis­ser­ta­tion exam­ines the effect of works of art on the under­stand­ing of lit­er­ary texts, using the example of the early paint­ing "Ocean" (2004). She describes the inter­ac­tion between dreams and reality.

Aris Kalaizis | Ocean | Oil on wood | 47 x 55 in | 2004
Aris Kalaizis | Ocean | Oil on wood | 47 x 55 in | 2004

Aris Kala­izis was born in Leipzig in 1966 as the son of Greek polit­ic­al emig­rants and stud­ied paint­ing at the Leipzig Academy of Visu­al Arts under Prof. Arno Rink. He cur­rently lives and works with small inter­rup­tions in Leipzig. Like Ger­man Paint­er Tim Eitel, Kala­izis belongs to the “New Leipzig School” . 

His art is char­ac­ter­ized by an "aura of form­al clar­ity, increas­ing still­ness, but also remote­ness" (Schlueter 2005, p.9). If Tim Eitel was ascribed sur­real fea­tures in his paint­ings, this attri­bu­tion also applies to the paint­ings of Aris Kalaizis.

The paint­ing Ocean deals with the ambi­val­ence of dream and real­ity. A girl with long brown hair and wear­ing only a white shirt is sit­ting at an oval, light-colored wooden table. Her head rests on her crossed arms and her gaze is fixed on a vase half filled with water. 

Facial expres­sions and ges­tures indic­ate that she is lost in thought and does not per­ceive her imme­di­ate sur­round­ings at all. 
She is very pale, and her trans­lu­cent glossy skin, nar­row face, and prom­in­ent bones make her appear extremely thin and ill. This impres­sion is rein­forced by the loom­ing rings under the eyes.

Ocean (Detail)
Ocean (Detail)

The design of the interi­or is only indic­ated by the table. The room looks empty and tidy. 
The nature of the wall behind the girl is essen­tial for the inter­pret­a­tion. A strik­ing grass-green wall­pa­per with large sym­met­ric­ally prin­ted circles con­tain­ing a group of sail­ing boats cov­ers half of the wall vis­ible in the painting. 

How­ever, this wall­pa­per seems to have been partly pas­ted over with a sea motif wall­pa­per. How­ever, the pan­els of this care­lessly applied wall­pa­per are com­ing loose and the detached corners are hanging down. At the top of the paint­ing, the green wall­pa­per comes to light again. 

Des­pite this slop­ing wall­pa­per, the interi­or does not appear shabby or dilap­id­ated, but rather neat and well-kept.

What is strik­ing is the real­ist­ic rep­res­ent­a­tion of the sea, which stands in stark con­trast to the orna­ment­ally designed green wall­pa­per. Apart from the impossib­il­ity of dir­ect­ing one's gaze to a sea at this point and in this way, only the gap between the wall­pa­per strips that meet shows that it can­not be a sea, but only shows the depic­tion of it.

Desire of Wideness

The pic­ture sug­gests that the desire of wide­ness, per­haps also for adven­ture, can be so strong that on the one hand it makes you ill because it seems unat­tain­able and on the oth­er hand it is so strong that real­ity and dreams merge. If it is not the desire for space that makes you ill, but an oth­er­wise ser­i­ous prob­lem, the fol­low­ing inter­pret­a­tion can be for­mu­lated: People are able to indulge in dreams in prob­lem­at­ic situ­ations, to leave real­ity with pleas­ure and to close them­selves off from reality .

Anoth­er inter­pret­a­tion arises when the focus is on the sick-look­ing girl, who may already be deal­ing with death and ima­gin­ing infinity.

You can detach your­self from the here and now through fantas­ies and dreams, but this abil­ity does not rep­res­ent an altern­at­ive to real­ity, but real­ity catches up with every­one again. A dream can­not be sus­tained. Ill­ness and des­pair can­not really be over­come by this. Accord­ing to this, fantas­ies are only a fra­gile help for over­com­ing real prob­lems and allow only a short pause before real­ity catches up with the per­son con­cerned again.


Excerpt: Stefanie Heese "Zur Nutzung von künst­lerischen Bildern für das lit­er­ar­ische Tex­tver­stehen im Unter­richt". Eine quasi­ex­per­i­mentelle Unter­suchung (Page181-182)

Peter Schlüter "Aris Kala­izis-Uncer­tain Pur­suits ", cata­logue Mar­bur­ger Kun­stver­ein (Page.9)

©2022 Stefanie Heese | Aris Kalaizis

Stefanie Heese ©2020 Photo: Christian Hüller
Stefanie Heese ©2020 Photo: Christian Hüller

Stefanie Heese was born in Pots­dam in 1978. She is a trained high school teach­er with the sub­ject com­bin­a­tion Ger­man and art and received her doc­tor­ate in May 2021 on the use of art works for lit­er­ary text com­pre­hen­sion in the classroom. She is cur­rently work­ing as a teach­er for spe­cial tasks at the Uni­ver­sity of Leipzig/​Depart­ment of Didactics for Ger­man Lan­guage and Literature.

She lives and works in Leipzig.

© Aris Kalaizis 2024