One of the most important new artists on the contemporary Greek art scene in the past ten years, this is Papailiakis’ first U.S. show, entitled Like Lovers Do…. The series of seven paintings makes reference to the `80’s pop song with the same title, and also historically ties in the religious notion of pietà.
Each work is an 11 by 10 inch pencil drawing on wood; the crudeness of the medium and the artist’s use of chiaroscuro underscore the dark narratives evoked in these little panels. The viewer is kept at a distance by Papailiakis’ lack of representational detail. There is no definitive line, only undulations of shadow and light, which the mind understands to be the form of an animal or child. Vision is tunneled as the mind focuses on figuring out the perhaps violent or benign scene unfolding in front of it. In the piece Tornado, an ominous funnel swings towards a statue of an angel, a messenger of God in the act of bringing an annunciation of peace. We can only stand by and watch as the cloud envelopes the relic. The work suggests an end.
In his previous works, Democracy is the Opposite of Ingratitude, Greek mythology is mixed with European literature and Baroque religious iconography becomes his way of communicating desire. His new series, Like Lovers Do…, Papailiakis continues his analysis of the perpetual battles that fill the space between the birth and death of animals, humans and gods, now taking place between two lovers. He writes: “In this series of work, what intrigued me is how the emotional need, the way that it surfaces into lovers’ relationships, is related to the creation of history; one’s need is the reason for human beings to create societies.” As his previous paintings explored the desperate futility of action, in “like Lovers Do,..” he is entering the futility of lovemaking and love separation. His exhibitions come right out of his studio; a living, reading, and working space in Athens, Greece, charged with the energy of possibly the largest privately owned art library in the country where he is determined to dwell in the atmosphere of old oil paintings, preferably the decadent offspring of Renaissance images, 16th and 17th century scenes of sublime suffering and martyrdom. “He leaned towards her…he laid his lips lightly against a cold, closed mouth; he was feeling defiant; Ivich was silent Lifting his head, he saw her eyes, and his passionate youth vanished…” “The Age of Reason” by Jean Paul Sartre.