3 - 31 May 2023
  • Taymour Grahne Projects is pleased to present Traveling Watercolours, an online solo show by Greek artist Vangelis Pliarides, opening virtually on May 3. Vangelis Pliarides’ first solo show at Taymour Grahne Projects features a series of 15 masterfully executed watercolours on handmade cotton paper produced during the artist’s prolonged stay at multiple rural and urban locations across the Philippines last year.

    • Through his dense pictorial language, Pliarides weaves narratives drawn from his own ongoing recollections, giving shape to memorable, queer, as well as imagined and symbolic travel stories. Even though exotic bays and beaches, lush green vegetation and beautiful women appear throughout his work, the atmosphere is far from idyllic, reflecting the sometimes harsh reality we live in and touches upon larger topics that contrast the romanticized fantasies the western world used to have and still may have for distant lands. Pliarides' unglorified protagonists - the outcasts of society - float and extend in space, losing control as they suffer from the troubles of life. Gender and class inequalities, love, rejection, money, violence and death are some of the demons they have to fight. By focusing on the absurd aspects of the everyday, the works are an invitation to observe reality without taking a judgmental stance. Pliarides challenges cultural and social assumptions through his provocative perspectives and explores in depth the human psyche, always through a lens of dark satirical humor that lies at the heart of his artistic practice. In ‘Manila Lovers,’ the viewer witnesses heartbroken men escaping their mistresses and the uncomfortable situations they're in by jumping out the window.

    • Their escape is seen as an act of freedom, even if it looks like a downward fall. One of the ladies changes her mind and sends a bird to deliver a flower to her lover and ask him to return. But it is too late. In ‘Dogs of Pratumnak’, a quiet and peaceful afternoon is disturbed by a tourist who is not welcomed by the two stray dogs that guard the street. The animals seem to have found the perfect opportunity to scare the man off with some bites. Some of the compositions, such as ‘Balut Sir’ are based on a real events. One evening while walking home, the artist finds himself in a dark alley followed by a mysterious male figure on a bike. After approaching the artist from the back, the man on the bike suddenly shouts BALUT, SIR? – the mysterious man proves to be a mere street food seller with no bad intentions. A balut is a fertilized developing egg embryo that is cooked and eaten from the shell, a common delicacy in Southeast Asian countries. A small egg can be seen escaping the victim’s hand in the watercolour composition.

    • Serving not only as a visual diary, but also as a memento mori - a reminder of the inevitability of death - Pliarides' narratives point towards the relentless passage of time, nostalgia for the past and the transience of life that so much resembles the beginning, middle and end of a trip. His work frequently refers to feelings of loneliness, the vulnerability that comes with old age, the pain heartbreaks can cause - and at the same time looks at human relationships to celebrate the power of friendship and comradeship. Choosing the medium of watercolour is of great importance as the fast drying, thin layers of colour capture fleeting moments as they are experienced. This offers freshness and immediacy to the unfiltered image, a sign that the painter builds his compositions based on the emotional intensity of the moment rather than on a calculated studio approach of his subject. It is equally significant to pay attention to the colour palette and the connotations that these options carry. The yellow undertones or the colour of 'dirt' that blend with the clear skies and blue waters of the painted landscapes give the idea that the past and present, the real and the imagined become compressed.

  • Vangelis Pliarides (B. 1964 in Thessaloniki, Greece) lives and works between Thessaloniki and London. He holds an MFA in Painting from the Royal College of Art (London). He has received awards and fellowships from the British Council and the Fulbright Foundation and his works are in various public collections such as: Musée d'art moderne et contemporain MAMCO (Geneva), Frissiras Museum (Greece), Fulbright Foundation (Greece), British Council (UK), Royal College of Art (UK), Astra Zeneca (Sweden), Alfa Laval (Sweden), Scania (Sweden), Södertälje Konsthall (Sweden), Union of Swedish Artists (Sweden) and Foundation Sana-Huja (Spain) among others. He is currently a professor of painting at Aristotle University (Thessaloniki).