Magical Realism is the heading under which one could view the work of Aris Kalaizis from Leipzig. It is a tradition that the Dutch painter Pyke Koch (1901-1991) described as follows: »although magical-realistic depictions are possible, they are unlikely.« That which is unlikely can be made likely through painting. And this is precisely what Aris Kalaizis shows us.
But his pictures are, however, no mere corollaries of the purely imaginary and thus do not present exact effigies of dreams. Thus, his work process starts out as an observation of the real world that opnens up new perspectives to him. Certainly, the air of a questing nature belongs to him. But we may still safely say that Kalaizis is reliant on the shapes and colors that are in the inventory of our reality in order to approach a deeper, inner, and funally concealed reality. One could also describe this creative process a dialectical unit of being an consciousness.
...observation of the real world
His pictures are very exact, almost photographical (but never photorealistic) representations portraying a neutral, even rational reality, on the one hand, and the irrationality of dreamscapes, on the other hand. He paints figures in uncommon situations that may irritate the beholder. For many this tension brings about an effect of a striking sense of estranging displacement, which at the same time is a great source of fascination and attraction.
Without a doubt, Kalaizis often hints at a hidden mystery that somehow transcends the surface of the picture as in some sort of otherworld, which originated in the artist's dreams, manifesting his desires, the perceptions of his imagination.
His works certainly also exhibit a distinctly cinematographic character. They seem like still pictures, a freeze, that has carefully been composed and orchestrated. This isn’t surprising when one is a bit familiar with the artist's workflow. Kalaizis indeed does precede the painting of a scene with building the scene beforehand, elaborate sets in which sometimes human models are placed.
The term often used in expert circles, »Neue Leipziger Schule«, signifies the third generation of painters who came forth from the distinguished Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, The Academy of Visual Arts. The term is more of an umbrella term than the label of a specific school. As a graduate from that academy, Aris Kalaizis belongs to this group of artist, but it is more productive to consider his work individually and independently from this context. His pictures are marked by a narrative habitus, which is characteristic of the Leipzig tradition and we know so well from the work of Neo Rauch.
These paintings invoke questions. We see an angel in a contemporary setting. Courbet, the famous French Realist said in the 19th century: “How could I paint an angel, if I've never seen one?” As in the piece »Making Sky« (2008), the angel is only wearing a thong and seems to have sunken down into the scene through the broken ceiling. Those are angels we enjoy looking at – attractive, young, erotic. The beautiful body is highlighted by a circular mirror and its blue frame that has been mounted on a wall with striped wallpaper.