Philip Tsiaras “Horse Boy” by Angelo Pauletti
Horses, horses, horses. A whole world contained in a few pages;
the world of Philip Tsiaras, Horse Boy.
This intimate expression does not take the place of a serious, traditional
catalogue replete with footnotes and lists of collectors and collections.
Tsiaras already has many serious and important catalogues
to his credit, and his works are found all over the world.
This little book is rather an attempt? hopefully successful? to approach the untamed heart of an artist, a painter who is above all eclectic
and difficult to confine within easy and convenient criteria. The very criteria, which Philip Tsiaras seems to reject with the unpredictability of a free animal,
with the sudden bursts of a purebred stallion.
It has been written that Tsiaras is a storehouse of images, an endless visual catalogue, always on the threshold of a “horror vacui” to be
avoided at all costs by returning to his compulsive need to explore through images the sentient universe. Painted vases of updated archaic forms, glass and ceramic high-heels, family portraits subjected to the camera’s eye, once tender but profaned during years of clinical scrutiny. These are only a few examples
of the “series” which Tsiaras has been undertaking for more than twenty years using all manner of materials and techniques,
without any solution but to continue his inexhaustible vitality.
Yet I believe, however, that the heart of hearts, the truest and
the most compelling core of the New York artist is expressed in
his horses which for twenty years have been recurring with a
necessity and a strength beyond the concept of a series.
Is he a painter of horses, then? Yes, if we take it to mean something apart from the classical genre of painting? or better? of the history of
images of all ages. More than a painting genre, it is rather
an existential event that forces Tsiaras into a continuous mimesis
in portraying himself as a horse, pushes him almost inside of
his paintings, and invites him to follow his wild and dangerous
creativity within a virgin territory of “fragility and strength”.
It is just as if he were eavesdropping on his own time and all other times, “far from the madding crowd” hearkening to a boy’s hidden and
A boy, a Horse Boy endowed with a perilous faculty of seeing.
It is easy, of course, and also accurate to assign to Tsiaras - whose first name is Philip and whose ancestors are Macedonian? an innate
interest in horses which, by the way, remain animals par excellence in Greece up to the present day. Although a first-generation American,
we cannot deny Mediterranean cultural origins to an artist born from Greek parents, just as we cannot deny his natural
attachment to one of the most characteristic genres of figurative Mediterranean culture. Tsiaras is, above of all, “ancient blood
in a modern organism”, raised and educated in an advanced American
culture. Assuming that “Mediterranean” is not only a geographic
connotation but also a way of understanding a complicated and
mutable cultural dimension, we can say that Tsiaras is Mediterranean twice because of his Greek origins and his choice of New York.
Is there a more Mediterranean cultural reality than New York in this sense?
Is this note necessary? I believe it is, even if once again the
silent eloquence of a sign and painting is certainly more effective than
This is a book without a text, or almost without one. That is why one must
look at it. It contains a sequence of images of artwork but it is not quite an art catalogue. It is more like a journey into a world, the world of Philip Tsiaras,
and into his images of horses. They are reproduced without chronological or technical order, representing works made over twenty years dedicated to one of the most classical, time-honored subjects in painting.
It is not intended to be an exclusive selection but rather suggests an approach
to the most significant and - why not? - the most beautiful core of the oeuvre of an artist who chose eclecticism as his stylistic key.
It would be wrong, in my belief, to approach this book by merely leafing through it and thinking: “Beautiful images!” distracted by the superficial accumulation of visual experiences so common in our times. That would be misleading.
There is a way of entering and connecting with the strength, the vitality,
and the sensuality of these works. The viewer needs to find his own speed with which to turn the pages and abandon himself with fantasy and courage. Each of us can find our own rhythm, and if we succeed, there is a reward in the possibility of enlarging our esthetic and visual horizons, in going on a real journey, and in facing a true experience accompanied by the wisdom of the Horse Boy.