Vlassis Caniaris

1928 - 2011

Born in Athens (GR), died in Athens (GR).

Vlassis Caniaris

From 1946 to 1950 he studies Medicine at Athens University while at the same time he attends painting lessons by Yannis Tsarouchis. In 1950 he abandons his medical studies in order to study at the Athens School of Fine Arts under Yannis Moralis, Yannis Pappas, Umberto Argyros and Panos Sarafianos. In 1956 he travels to Rome in order to study scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts. In May, 1958, he realizes his first solo show of abstract works in Athens, at Zygos gallery. At the start of 1959 he begins his series of Walls – an attempt to reproduce on canvas the feelings evoked by walls during the German Occupation in Greece. His exploration of the problem of space in relation to the painted surface leads him to gradually abolish the canvas. He presents the resulting work -wall-mounted constructions comprising plastered paper on wire mesh-  the following year at Rome’s La Tartaruga gallery. In 1960 he moves to Paris.

In 1964 within the framework of the Venice Biennale, he participates together with Danil and Kessanlis in the show Three Proposals for a New Greek Sculpture, organized by Pierre Restany and the La Fenice Theatre. For the next two years he begins to create maquettes, smaller-sized objects made of sheet copper, wire mesh, rags, mirrors, attached to plaster forms or surfaces. In 1967 he returns to Athens. In May, 1969, during the military dictatorship, he presents his Plasters at the New Gallery in Athens. In August he has to return to Paris once again. From 1971 onwards, he begins a new series of works in Paris under the general title Immigrants, which he completes with the aid of a D.A.A.D. grant. He lives in West Berlin for around two years (1973-75). The artist uses his characteristic anthropomorphic constructions/assemblages from the Immigrants series in his next body of work in order to comment on contemporary sociopolitical reality (Helas-Hellas, 1980, North-South 1988, etc.). After his return to Greece in 1976 he is elected painting professor at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens.

His work has been presented internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions (San Marino Biennale, 1963, Sao Paulo Biennale, 1965, Documenta, Kassel, 1977, Europalia, Brussels, 1982, Venice Biennale, 1988, Vlassis Caniaris: A Retrospective, National Gallery, Athens, 1999, Anniversary – Vlassis Caniaris’ Eightieth Birthday, Benaki Museum, Athens, 2008 et al.).

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