“Nomadic Icons” by Carmela Strano

In his most recent works Tsiaras defines, in a more substantial and original way, the relationship between conceptual attitude and gestural painting. His art is always characterized by a duality which determines eclectic solutions, or prevails in the use of either gesture or concept. Tsiaras has absorbed and learned from the lessons of Kline and de Kooning, etc. But his Mediterranean origin eased the strength and rhythm of his gesturalism leaving more space to themes, moments and narrative events of a conceptual nature. On the other hand, it is necessary to keep in mind that Tsiaras begins, in the early Seventies, as an artist-photographer committed to study conceptual and ideological correlations through an exceedingly ductile, inventive, intense composition. This happened especially with the photographs taken in a ten-years period beginning in the late Seventies. In these, Tsiaras revealed himself as a “performer”, at the same time restless, refined, especially in regard to compositional experiences which characterize the art of past centuries. The ingredients of Tsiaras’ elegant photographs embody a veiled idea of Greek tragedy, an infusion of charged irony, a need to search himself psychologically, even through the presence of his family (however without psychoanalytic obsession but rather with a bashfulness concealed by an almost goliardic spirit). The result is work which is readable not only on a personal or individual level but mythosocially as well.
This conceptual attitude of Tsiaras which is transferred little by little onto the paintings ultimately contributes to what makes his work fascinating. For example, the sign, in the sense of sign-writing, becomes part of a dialectic relationship together with the energized dynamism of color-form. This sometimes happens in works that are painted in two sections, as in Popular Plane (1991). On the top, is the plane, Tsiaras’ leitmotiv, a form without contour which is capable of transforming itself into the whole, into a detail, or even to become a blurred background. On the bottom, four small Coca-Cola bottles (a metabolized rediscovery) are placed in a symmetrical rhythm on the thin meshing of signs with continuous allusions to the plane.
This is only an example, but it is possible to mention other examples of how Tsiaras puts in situation or conceptualizes his expressive exuberance. In this sense, it is interesting to refer to the ceramics. This exceedingly traditional format becomes, in Tsiaras’ hands, a provocative language. The vase becomes a theater for heterogeneous objects which are placed upon it.
In some works, like in Rewriting (1989) of the White Paintings series, both sign and form are reduced in the eliminating pictorial space. Here geometrical blocks interact with each other, sometimes touching or keeping their distance in a tense dialectic with a cluster of drawn forms expressed by a delicate and thin mark.
Tsiaras often moves from dissolving to superimposition and to compression. On one hand, there are the ceramics which are conceptual in nature. On the other hand, the so-called Sandwiches (canvases stacked upon each other, making formal transgressions with the ordinary) which are themselves an imperfect geometry. In all this Tsiaras’ art is in continuous flux with a dialectic base. And always a perpetual surprise, these nomadic icons.