Paniaras’ ultimate sea


by Yiorgos Veis

Over a career of fifty-five years, Kostas Paniaras has developed a rich code of media and moves from painting to sculpture and special installations, freely adopting various materials through which he gains access to the illusion of the new image.

In the process of his quest for the truth, artistic acts/reflections of an undefined inner self and memories resurfacing from a remote past take part in the constant game of the alternating presence and absence of ‘subject’ as well as in the various possibilities for the final verdict of his temporally-and above all spatially-displaced work.

I remember that in some earlier three-dimensional works the corrugated sheets made of various materials alluded to his relationship with the sea, which began before his memory, as he says: his pregnant mother’s strolls along the coast continued with himself in the pram every morning and afternoon, according to the rigid earlier habits of everyday life in the greek seaside towns.

Yet this amniotic relationship did not evolve into that close thing that most Greeks have in their blood. The existential need to sail, the reverie on the deck or even the pleasure of swimming are all too far from that elusive question that the sea raises in me, claims Paniaras.

Nevertheless, in the early 1990s a watery fluidity began literally to inundate his paintings. Such telling titles as The Journey or The Adventure recur regularly during that time, while Paniaras firmly repudiates the label of seascape painter and insists that his works may be close to the idea of the sea but not to its image, which he exorcises in his recent polyptychs with the paroxysmal greens, the strong yellows and-more often-the dazzling reds that invite us on other journeys, away from any deceptive ‘seafaring’.

In this sense Paniaras helps us unlearn idols and teach us some essences-and I would claim he does it in the manner proposed by Claude Levi-Strauss in his essay “The content of painting”. Let me quote the following excerpt to make this point: “Man must persuade himself that he occupies an
infinitesimal place in creation, that the latter’s richness far outstrips him, and that none of his aesthetic inventions will
ever rival those contained in a mineral, an insect or a flower. A bird, a beetle, a butterfly invite the same rapt contemplation that we reserve for a Tintoretto or a Rembrandt; but our gaze has lost its freshness, we no longer know how to see”.

Let us trust Kostas Paniaras once again. He has the gift to discern what we have lost by living in this frenzied age which is bent on glorifying the contemptible, in all its versions if possible.

Kostas Paniaras - The native of colors

In his new wide installation at the DESTE Institute ultra marine- which I would translate as the ultimate sea- , the corrugated sheets return, this time in metal and in no way processed by the artist, so that the cold hyper-naturalism of the readymade industrial material invests the work with a resonant, disquieting ‘silence’ and a muted, drum-beating mercurial phosphorescence which point to the primordial question of the First Night.

Before the ominous surge of the new work of Kostas Paniaras there is only a very narrow passage for the viewer, from one door to another amidst the gloom…

I must admit that this extreme minimisation of what little space remains points instantly to the Homeric awe of the Great Deep and thus precludes any other form of ‘sea lust’…

By the poet Yiorgos Veis


  1. Refreshing to see larger scale creative works, such as these examples.More images needed!! To be inspired by other art and artists is a wonderful bonus and adds to the enrichment one”s life. Thank you.

    1. Hello Michael,
      Thank you for your encouraging message. If you EXPAND the book image at the bottom of the article you will be able to see many more images of this artists’ work. You will also be able to read the book which is in two languages (in Greek first and then in English). In this way you will be able to understand more of the artist and their inspirational work.
      Extremely nice to hear from you again…

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