The Crystal World of Fiction

 

Philip Tsiaras, one of the most dynamic artists of the Greek diaspora of his generation, is returning again to Athens, despite the socio-economic crisis, in an exhibition of his work entitled The Universe of Things, always conscious of the fact that his work has classic roots and is connected to the spirit of ancient Greece. Born in the USA (1952) of Greek parents, in New Hampshire, Tsiaras studied at Amherst College, where he focused his attention on the visual arts and creative writing, revealing an imaginative visionary world from which his agony about life’s mystery and complexity emerge. Painting, sculpture and photography, along with poetry have driven his creative work, as he concentrated his gaze upon anything, it seems, that hovers between reality and meta-reality, earth and sky. In Tsiaras’ work there is always a story, a sentiment, a sense of hope, whose creative world reveals his crystal universe. He has said himself: “the exploration in my work is a way of rediscovering myself”.

This multifarious creator in his long artistic journey, proves that he is not only interested in the perfection of form but also in the conceptual meaning attached to any work of art. Therefore, the celebrated works from his exhibition entitled Circle of Life, and his current exhibition, The Universe of Things, presented by Blender Gallery, continue in the uninterrupted ethos of Tsiaras.

His recent glass artworks, Balloon Gun and East Eats West remain trademarks of this ethos, with the austere simplicity of their phallic forms perhaps referencing the Ithyphallic Hermes that existed in Delos. Tsiaras is aware of the fact that for the Greeks the nude represents the ultimate culture reflected in the perception that the body must evoke admiration and must be worshiped. He also knows that Chthona, the land of the dead, love and rebirth that is, goes through the male body. Even in the Hermetic columns, there is always a male figure prevalent, never a female one, in the form of a pillar or a pier.

Tsiaras’ glass creations therefore lead us and connect us, through an enigmatic path, to his earlier work, where a moment of time becomes a valuable platform for contemplation and self-awareness. Tsiaras says: If there is not humor in your work, or in general, what is the point in living? It is with a sarcastic and ironic humor that the images of his colorful guns in glass make us confront our years of childhood innocence and the fragility of life itself.

The archetypal shape of the circle seems to haunt his paintings, as in mixed media paintings like White Earth and Heart of Imaginary Sun, among others. While the former painting is created with subtle shades of white, the latter is characterized by intense and strong color juxtapositions, emboldening his free gestural style. Concurrently, his spherical sculptures made of clay or glass, on the surface of which a high heel shoe or a gun is balanced, amplify his zeal for the surreal, and his dialogue with the history of classical Greece; and with the secrets of glass making that he mastered throughout his stay in Venice, in the Murano workshops.

Tsiaras, after all, in all phases of his artistic adventure, living permanently in New York and travelling constantly around the world, indulges in an endless play of colors and shapes, signifiers and signified; and reveals his own fictional truth and his deep personal desire for a constant return to Greece.

Takis Mavrotas

Art Director of B & M Theocharakis Foundation