Vlassis Caniaris (GR 1928-2011) ranks among the most influential artists of his generation. In the 50 years of his artistic work, he created an oeuvre of international relevance. His object-like paintings and expansive installations resemble sculptural tableaux and testify to his subtle talent for observing reality. Although formally akin to the New Realism of Duane Hanson or Jasper Johns, he is foremost concerned with showing and understanding human qualities, wishes and longings positioned in relation to a specific reality. Due to the political conditions in post-war Greece, Caniaris lived in Rome, Paris, and Berlin between 1956 und 1976. He returned to Greece only at the end of the 1970s. This view from the outside, both to his homeland and his respective places of residence, had a strong influence on his observing, socio-critical approach and is prominently expressed in the recurring figure of the “Witness” (1980s).
Caniaris’ visual language is distinctive and surprising for its period, leading to invitations to show his work at the Venice Biennale (2013, 2003, 1988, 1964) and Documenta (2017, 1977), along with numerous solo exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1970), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1972), the ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1976), Kunstverein Hannover (1976) and more recent at GAK – Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2012) or Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (2012). In June 2015, Wiels Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels will present works by Vlassis Caniaris. His work is included in many public collections including Tate Modern, London; SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum, Hagen or National Art Gallery, Athens.