Aris Kalaizis

On the Uncanny Reccurence of the Foreign

The Aus­tri­an cur­at­or Dr. Peter Ass­mann describes in his essay the appear­ence of the real in Leipzig-artist, Aris Kala­izis paint­ings. There­fore is » view­ers own 'dark room' « (Alfred Kubin) an essen­tial aspect of every view­er in every art

Aris Kalaizis, Detail: Recurrence of a Farewell
Aris Kalaizis, Detail: Recurrence of a Farewell

… it is always import­ant to wait, to exper­i­ence a form of arrival, and then to wait again. Many words and many dis­cus­sions fill the inter­im peri­od. Few visu­al artists fill this space of wait­ing and linger­ing with so many words as in this case. Stor­ies that always some­how seem prob­able, shards of memory, some­times his own, some­times pictori­al, and some­times those told to him by oth­ers, but then there are also shift­ing states of mind and of feel­ing that demand descrip­tion and exchange. 
And yet these pictori­al con­stel­la­tions seem to effort­lessly elude the con­straints inher­ent in real­ity. Every imper­i­ous approach is met with so much open­ness so that its dom­in­eer­ing rumble echoes into a wide empti­ness after a few sen­tences and does not arrive at the com­pre­hens­ive real­ity of the »oth­er­ness«. It seems as though the space sur­round­ing the behold­er is darkened down. After the cur­tain has opened again, the pro­jec­tion light is turned on, and a new pictori­al real­ity is offered up to us. Yes, indeed. 
Aris Kala­izis cer­tainly oper­ates as a film dir­ect­or. He sov­er­eignly ›dir­ects‹ the pictori­al world. He dir­ects and leads it on, lead­ing him­self and the behold­er through abund­ant oppor­tun­it­ies of ori­ent­a­tion. He repeats motifs without giv­ing cer­tainty. He refers back to things already known or famil­i­ar without mak­ing an entire recog­ni­tion pos­sible. And he (pos­sibly) uses everything and any­body as props with­in his »rendi­tion of an altern­at­ive world«. Because: »in accord­ance with my under­stand­ing of truth, I’m inter­ested in experience.«2
The pos­sib­il­ity of fol­low­ing a pic­ture is always giv­en, nev­er mind how often one’s own vis­ions and ima­gin­a­tions may swim or rush to the sur­face. The »indi­vidu­al pic­ture-laden dark room« (Alfred Kubin) of every behold­er is an essen­tial ele­ment in the work of Aris Kala­izis: those indi­vidu­al read­ings decide how intense its artist­ic force may be and how plaus­ible it appears, if it isn’t already dir­ectly painted into the pic­ture itself, as in (every) »Rec­cur­rence of a Farewell«.

But it is the ques­tions of rela­tion­ship that incess­antly push us for­ward. Those ques­tions that are forever irrit­at­ing and that rattle the »figure’s vig­or­ous self-referentiality«3, but still can­not be removed from us bit by bit. What remains is the greatest pos­sible open­ness with respect to attributive and rela­tion­al decisions that try to make ties and rela­tions more con­crete. But this open­ness keeps them pre­lim­in­ary by way of the intens­ity in its ambigu­ous mes­sage. And everything gains some sort of objectiv­ity in those rela­tion­ship cos­mora­mas and tends towards reti­cence, which cer­tainly can be bridged by words – »because I want to reach out to the spir­itu­al and intel­lec­tu­al wealth from my beholders«4.

Aris Kalaizis, Detail: Annett | Oil on wood | 125 x 120cm | 2012
Aris Kalaizis, Detail: Annett | Oil on wood | 125 x 120cm | 2012

It is dan­ger­ous to want to catch a fall­ing knife, but…

Invest­ing his gaze with his »spritu­a­land intel­lec­tu­al wealth«, the behold­ers of these pictori­al worlds are con­stantly led into »oth­er­worlds« when tread­ing on the scant marks of ori­ent­a­tion left by the artist. Step by step, they are drawn towards a wake, a pull suck­ing them in with great energy, a real­ity drive that extends and spreads bey­ond the artist­ic per­spect­ives cre­ated by the Sur­real­ists or Hyper­real­ists. The term »Sottorealism«5, which has been at- trib­uted to Aris Kala­izis, refers to a gen­er­al out­look in the artist’s work that is rooted deep down in the syn­apses of all real­it­ies that ori­ent our attempts at mak­ing sense or mean­ing when envi­sion­ing or loo- king at pic­tures. It is as though the ques­tion of real­ity has been steeped into per­man­ence. Visu­al artists such as Aris Kala­izis – like pho­to­graph­ic approaches of Gregory Crewd­son or Jeff Wall – suc­ceed in estab­lish­ing com­pos­i­tions of that which is real that have a per­sist­ent mod­el char­ac­ter. In close rela­tion, they behave like the blend­ing of real­it­ies in a movie theat­er. After the per­cep­tion has gained energy, this ener­get­ic gaze is con­cen­trated on an intense object until the visu­al powers of the behold­er com­ple­ment each oth­er, inwardly as well as out­wardly in one per­cep­tion of real­ity – a con­cen­tra­tion of real­ity upon mul­tiple levels, open and com­pact, and some­how con­sist­ent. Since 2008 Aris Kala­izis also works on more elab­or­ate pro­duc­tions in which the sub­ject of that which is painted almost seems incid­ent­al, some­thing that is eas­ily over­seen. In those paint­ings, fig­ures and faces are developed out of the spa­tial depth in muted col­ors. It almost appears as though the dark­ness were tak­ing hold of his fig­ures. With­in that which is painted, as in Frida or Annett (both 2012), but also in oth­er paint­ings, a het­ero­gen­eity in the col­or applic­a­tion may be observed.

Kala­izis, there­fore, imparts the sen­sa­tion of intens­ity by way of a bot­tom­less sov­er­eignty, the cer­tainty that there is always some­thing beneath, some­thing hov­er­ing. This is espe­cially the case whenev­er this sen­sa­tion had been with us or in us at some oth­er point in time and is made to be more present because it is called forth from our yearn­ing. It is thus more present than any ana­lyt­ic­al thought could with its logic. Even farewells cre­ate a new sense of close­ness as in Rec­cur­rence of a Farewell (2010).

»It is dan­ger­ous to want to catch a fall­ing knife, but that is exactly what Kala­izis is con­stantly try­ing. He does so whenev­er he merges nor­mal­ity with abnor­mal­ity, thereby cre­at­ing ten­sions and con­flicts. The res­ult is always uncertain«6. But at the same time it is a con­cretely envi­sioned res­ult, a very clear pictori­al ori­ent­a­tion – with sharp con­tours, with great depth. At the same time, the behold­er may put on many hats on this path towards his pictori­al world. He can fix­ate for him­self some many things, again and again, and yet nev­er arrive at a final defin­i­tion. He always remains the one who is ori­ented, nav­ig­at­ing on his own path through­out the real­it­ies offered up to him in this pictori­al world…

Peter Assmann and Aris Kalaizis at the Austrian Museum Angerlehner, 2013
Peter Assmann and Aris Kalaizis at the Austrian Museum Angerlehner, 2013

Dr. Peter Ass­mann was born in 1963. He stud­ied gen­er­al and art his­tory as well as Ger­man lit­er­at­ure. He works as an art his­tor­i­an, writer, and visu­al artist. From 2000 to 2013 he was the dir­ect­or of the Upper Aus­tri­an State Museums. He is an expert on Itali­an art of the 16th cen­tury as well as the inter­na­tion­al art of the 20th cen­tury. Since 2016 he leads the Museo Palazzo Ducale in Man­tua. He lives and works in Linz (A) and Mantova (I).

1 Max Loren­zen: My Driv­ing Force is My Impa­tience. A dis­cus­sion between a philo­soph­er and a paint­er. Source: Aris Kala­izis. Mak­ing Sky. A mono­graph with cata­logue rais­on­né, Hirmer-Ed. München 2009. Page 10.
2 A dis­cus­sion between Aris Kala­izis and Jan Siegt. Source: Aris Kala­izis. Ath­letik und Sin­nmon­arch­ie, cata­logue, Leipzig 1997 (maerz­galer­ie).
3 Peter Schlüter: Hid­den Images of the Inex­press­ible. Source: Aris Kala­izis. Uncer­tain Pur­suits, cata­logue, Mar­burg 2005. Page 9
4 A dis­cus­sion between Aris Kala­izis and Jan Siegt. Source: Aris Kala­izis. Ath­letik und Sin­nmon­arch­ie, cata­logue, Leipzig 1997 (maerz­galer­ie).
5 Car­ol Strick­land: Detour as a Route to Unity and Order. Source: Aris Kala­izis. Rub­ba­cord, Ker­ber-Ed. Biele­feld-Leipzig 2006. Page 12.
6 Car­ol Strick­land: Where the Shad­ows Dwell. An art his­tor­ic­al ana­lys­is. Source: Aris Kala­izis. Mak­ing Sky, Hirmer-Ed. Munich. Page 30.

©2014 Peter Ass­mann | Aris Kalaizis

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