The Allies (2007) illustrates how Kalaizis uses painterly devices to push and pull the eye through the twists and detours of his visual language. The overlapping straight and curved lines lead you through the surface of the painting, like a map to the hidden treasure of its meaning. But the surface is also an arena for thwarting this linear progression. It twists the map of your mind from what you think you know to what’s unknown and unknowable. The path to enlightenment is never straightforward. Its trajectory always involves doubling back through murky, shadowy terrain in the search for meaning.
In this painting, the artist shines a harsh spotlight on his uplifted head, implying his own attempts at seeing clearly and reaching for illumination. Behind him are two isolated, alienated figures in ambiguous poses. A man wearing a jacket and dark glasses regards the wall of a garishly lit cubicle, turned away from a woman who inhabits the opposite corner of the stall. She looks down, her hands outstretched as if in entreaty. She’s scantily clad and her face is impassive, yet the slump of her head conveys sadness, a plea to which the man is oblivious. Straight lines entrap the two and, illogically, she’s mirrored at the rear but the man has no reflection, as if he’s invisible.
...Engaging the viewer to think, feel, react, and respond to his canvases is the difficult task he sets for himself
Kalaizis, like the English painter Francis Bacon, employs the architecture of a scene as a framing device, making form follow function. His lines seem to contain the human beings who inhabit the space, oppressive and threatening. Within the shared space, the figures appear static, melancholy, vaguely frightened, and drained of energy. Communication between them is non-existent, as if they’re mired in separate spheres and rectangles. The paintings, while setting up an atmosphere of bristling, psychological tension, conceal the cause and the outcome of the intense situation portrayed.
The Morning After (2006) is almost like the opening scene of a police drama – or the waking continuation of a nightmare. A young girl clothed in undergarments stands holding tightly to a woman, seemingly her mother, who’s fully clothed and ramrod straight, eyes closed and face betraying no emotion. The girl seems fearful, a supposition strengthened by the presence of a man kneeling in the foreground, with a stricken expression on his face. He regards his hands like a guilt-haunted Lady Macbeth, although no blood is visible on his fingers. The two females are framed in green light, and this green shadow spills onto the man. The walls alternate between slabs of soft lavender, acidic green, and a strong “white” light emanating from a refrigerator that spotlights the man. The refrigerator’s glow seems unearthly, like a spectral aura of mystery.
...Ugliness is something which absolutely needs to be added to the idea of beauty
In this painting, contrast reigns supreme: contrast between the two conjoined figures and the lone man, between their upright stance and his kneeling posture, and between their shadowed presence and his proximity to the source of harsh light. “Ugliness is something which absolutely needs to be added to the idea of beauty,” Kalaizis has said. And here he’s created an object of beauty out of terrifying ingredients.