Ilias Papailiakis

17 Jun 2023 - 15 Jul 2023


Ilias Papailiakis

‘The rustler’


Gallery of the Cyclades

Opening day: 17 June 2023

17June – 15 July 2023


On Saturday 17th June, at 19.00, Ilias Papailiakis’ new solo exhibition opens at the Gallery of the Cyclades in Hermoupolis, Syros. The exhibition is titled ‘The Rustler’ and comprises of five large paintings, 4 x 4 meters each, especially made for the Gallery of the Cyclades. The exhibition is organized by Skoufa Gallery and is curated by the art historian Christoforos Marinos.

All five paintings share the same character and depict five different episodes in which he is the protagonist. Papailiakis is identified with this character, who is inventive and contrives tricks in order to solve problems- something essential for a contemporary artist’s work. His hero brings to mind Ulysses (Odysseas), who is a symbol of versatile thinking, wandering and sea adventures. In this series of paintings, Papailiakis seems to comply with the statement that ‘the map of our life is an Odyssey in itself’.

In each painting, his character has deep knowledge of a specific art or technique:  he is a navigator, a rainmaker, a rustler, an interpreter of dreams and a ship builder. All of these arts and techniques demand special skills. A navigator and a rainmaker take action during emergencies – the former navigates a ship safely through dangerous seas and the latter makes rain in periods of draught. His rainmaker refers to fantastic heroes, such as Hermann Hesse’s Joseph Knecht or Richard Nash’s Starbuck as well as to real people, such as Charles Hatfield). The painting of the ‘Rustler’ (which gives its name to the title of the exhibition), is the artist’s reference to 19th C.  genre painting (such as ‘The Punishment of the Chicken Thief in Smyrna’, 1873, by Nikolaus Gyzis). Similar figures of animal thieves are found on medieval frescoes of Hell, where men and women get punished for their sins.  The last two paintings of the exhibition are the ‘Dream interpreter’ and the ‘Ship builder’: the former signifies someone who interprets dreams, possibly Sigmund Freud and the unconscious, while the latter is a designer and ship builder with direct references to Noah and the Ark.

The meaning and the importance of travelling is an element present in all five paintings– a trip to self-knowledge, a pursuit for dominance. Papailiakis’ images, despite their apparent spontaneity, are deeply conceptual. They are studies on balance, sizes and quantities. Large scale compositions and the linearity of his drawings are issues with which the artist deals in this series of paintings. Delacroix once wrote in his diary that ‘A line on its own has no meaning. It needs another one in order to be able to express something…’.

In Papailiakis’ paintings, the human figure participates to a specific action and is defined or framed by an animal or an object. Some of his figures are small and some others occupy the whole image. Each painting is divided into four parts (2 x 2 meters long), and every image, like a puzzle, is composed by smaller pieces. The themes and the subtle, pale colors used, become Papailiakis’s personal trait: they are based on images from the past and they have their roots in the history of art (i.e., the Minoan wall paintings, the stylized figurines, Spyros Papaloukas’s simple color palette and Giorgio Morandi).



Gallery of the Cyclades,E. Papadam, Hermoupolis, Syros 84100


Visiting Hours:

Weekdays: 19:00-22:00

& Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 11:30-12:30

  • Date: 17 Jun 2023 - 15 Jul 2023
  • Location: Gallery of the Cyclades, Syros
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