Pliarides’ paintings explore the negotiation of life’s primal nature – love, death, betrayal, marriage and separation, and the pursuit of happiness – through a personal perspective perhaps best exemplified in Lost. His personal philosophy permeates surrealist scapes imbuing reality with paradoxical dreamlike-concepts. The narrative is one of plurality where the important and the unimportant cohabit, humorously mixing reality with surreality.
Inspired by his extensive travels and experiences around the world, particularly his extended time in the Philippines, each work is an elaborately constructed performance displaying the strength of the characters and their desire. At the same time, human weakness and decay are evident in the deliberate deconstruction and aging of the canvas, reflecting man’s desire for control and the ability to harness time as seen in The Old Man with the Fifty Pound Bill. The paradoxical nature of life can be seen in the Death of Magellan where reality adopts ritual significance – as the vanquished becomes the victor his relentless desire for adventure is vindicated. This theme of obsession can also be found in the excesses of Betrayal which epitomise the reckless urge to betray.
While a painting may represent history or a scene from Pliarides’ life, it is not an attempt to rewrite history but rather a way of understanding events in the wider context of life’s cycle, and in so doing embracing the humorous perspective in spite of the somber dynamics of desire, death and life. Ultimately, the overarching narrative is of the prevalence of nature over all else and the realisation of man’s inevitable inconsequence.
Vangelis Pliarides splits his time between London and Thessaloniki. He is Associate Professor in Fine Art at Aristotle University, Thessaloniki. - Hannah Parsons