Vlassis Caniaris

Vlassis Caniaris (Athens, 1928-Athens, 2011), at first, he studied medicine at the Athens University (1945-1950) which he gave up to study at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1950-1955). In 1956 he settled in Rome and in 1960 he moved to Paris where he lived until 1967. He lived in Berlin on a DAAD scholarship in 1973-1975. In 1975 he was elected professor of painting at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens. Solo exhibitions (selection): 1958, Zygos gallery, Athens; 1960, La Tartaruga gallery, Rome; 1969, New Gallery, Athens; 1970, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; 1971, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; 1976, ICA, London; Kunstverein, Hanover; 1980, Bernier gallery, Athens; 1983, Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund; 1988, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and Yeni Djami, Thessaloniki; 1999, National Gallery, Athens; 2000, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; 2008, Benaki Museum, Athens. Group exhibitions (selection): 1964, Trois propositions pour une nouvelle sculpture grecque, Teatro “La Fenice”, Venice; 1965, Sao Paolo Biennale; 1977, Documenta 6, Kassel; 1982, Europalia, Brussels; 1988, Venice Biennale; 1992, Metamorphoses of the Modern, National Gallery, Athens; 1996, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.


[...] Already midway through the preceding peri­od I turned my attention to the problem of a large and wretched population lumped together under the general name “emigrants”. On another level, it was also in some way my own personal prob­lem. [...]

My aim was to clarify matters, making use of sci­entific data to the greatest degree possible in treat­ing the problems, conditions, and the reasons for as well as examining the prospects for this particu­lar world which because of its large population was like a separate European country. [...] That is, try­ing to deal all the things contained in this prob­lem, all of its separate realities, dreams, customs and likely prospects. [...]

I worked on this presentation on a variety of levels and precisely because of the problems that appeared -the forms were subject to changes which shifted about the priorities of the proposed elements and, because of this, the manner of achieving the finalized image which would justi­fy this method of work. [...]

I also worked in this way to give these images the potential for a presence which they had a right to, if not on the level of individual (personal) aesthet­ics, at least in terms of aesthetics that gave this large number identified usually as a mass, validi­ty and existential justification. [...] This position in regard to imagination and dream, during childhood, as well as the possibility of adaptation even in the worst possible conditions, were elements that I felt needed to be referred to and stressed. [...] The po­litical claims and subversive elements did not oc­cupy me and I did not refer to them at all. [...]

Vlassis Kaniaris

Memorandum, Athens 1992, p. 21-22


The Big Swing, 1973, mixed media, 330 x 410 x 150 cm, courtesy D.Daskalopoulos Collection

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon