Books and Catalogues

Bibliography Section Catalog
''The Dream and the Familiar'' catalogue exhibition 2013
Text Dr.Aphrodite Kouria ,Lilly Wei ,Pelagia Kyriazi
National Bank Cultural Foundation
Eyrard Mansion Athens
Bibliography Section Catalog
''The Dream and the Familiar''

Till Human Voices Wake Us
Lilly Wei

PelagiaKyriazi ‘s recent work, an ongoing, evocative series of colored pastels that she began in 2003 called “Tales of Paradox,” continues to probe the human condition and its longings and anxieties, its hopes and fears, its complex, compromised relationships between self and others. Her themes, as usual, are existential, obsessed with destiny, solitude, and the communal. Her palette runs the gamut, the colors rich, dense, subtly modulated, and atmospheric, shifting from warm to cool. The surfaces vary, textured in some areas, even mottled, catching the light. In other sections, other drawings, the topography is smoother, the direction inward. Kyriazi sometimes outlines the shapes clearly, other times she blurs them so that they merge, feathering the marks, layering the colors, the deftly executed, painterly passages compelling for their purely pictorial value as well as for their elusive, portentous narratives. She said that her process is slow and even though the present series is modest in size, each drawing took from three months to two years to complete.

Figure and ground, usually closely, even claustrophobically intertwined, are difficult to unravel as forms emerge from the surface and retreat into it. Kyriazi’s world appears apparitional, a dream space that is submerged, enclosed, the figures often crowded together, held fast, although some seem to struggle to extricate themselves, attempting to gain more breathing room, to connect to others, to fight them off, to come into being. Their various postures suggest a kind of struggle for release, for individuality, shrugging off the familiar.

The images delineated are both complete figures and sections of bodies such as heads, torsos, arms and legs jumbled together, the scale of the personae shifting radically within the painting from large to small, sometimes nesting within each other, emblematic of an endless chain of being. Surrealistically drawn, many of the forms are clustered within curved shapes that resemble wombs or shrouds, underscoring Kyriazi’s meditations on birth and death.

One pastel depicts a vessel of sorts, but a makeshift one, containing a cargo of passengers and shapes that are difficult to identify. The color scheme at first belies a sense of doom, with its festive reds, oranges, and yellows—but soon the blues and greens of the sea seep into the picture, the hues darkening, making the scene more ominous. The content, too, signals peril, the boat overloaded, not a reliable ark, with strange creatures and objects in the murky water in the foreground. Another work is more concise but just as mysterious, a green reclining, odalisque shape that seems a bundle of forms wrapped in a translucent membrane that could be an amniotic sac, a disembodied head hovering nearby.
A cool, mostly greenish-blue, grey-white architectonic composition of what seems to be columns or bare tree trunks differs from the others in its rectilinearity, its few figures—a family?—standing upright in a clearing between the pillars, accompanied by shadows or auras.
Another picture simply depicts a hand, its fingers so preternaturally long, especially the thumb, that they seem more like arms or legs, the distortion strangely dissonant, disquieting. Mordant, at times wistful, liminal, these are images that will haunt your sleep; you won’t soon forget them.

Lilly Wei
Art critic and curator
Catalog essay for the exhibition'' The Dream and the Familiar''
Bibliography Section Catalog
''The Dream and the Familiar''
Aphrodite Kouria

black on the white impassioned allegory

The series of large drawings under the title “Abandoned Codes”, which was started in 1990, demonstrates some constant elements in the overall approach and artistic personality of Pelagia Kyriazi.
At the core of her artistic career is her drawing with its idiosyncratic idiom, in its various guises and functions:
as a primary, direct record of a sensory stimulus, as an intermediate/preparatory stage in the creation of a composition or as a final work, often on a large scale.
To Kyriazi the drawing carries and conveys her quests on a conceptual, formal and purely technical level. For many years the artist has been successfully experimenting, both autonomously or in combinations, with many different materials, traditional or other, as well as with technology.
In the course of the representational process and the emergence of the image, she explores and exploits the peculiarities and the potential of her various media and the physicality of materials to achieve different qualities and textures and their respective visual, painterly and conceptual effect. Layering and the synergy between pigment and substratum are key factors in her art.
Moreover, she is constantly concerned about the terms of her works’ visual perception as they are shaped by the work itself (morphology, materiality, dimensions) or by extraneous conditions such as the angle of viewing or the overall relation between viewer and work. We must note here the key importance of size. Talking about two large works, one of which creates an angle, the painter writes in her notes: “The viewer must be able to walk around them, they must have room to breathe in the architecture of the venue. The viewer must get a natural impression, as when looking at murals”.
This is the top work in this series of drawings that hover between abstraction and representation, processed in a gestural, fluid style and with the interaction of light and shade as a decisive element in structuring the image and space and in giving meaning to the works.
Weird, unreal worlds/spaces infiltrated by figures and architectural forms from the depths of cultural memory. These spaces, these images with the strong tonal contrasts, their mobility, and frenetic pace, the complex geometry, the spatial discontinuities and the fragmentation that draw the viewer’s gaze into labyrinthine, inconclusive wanderings bring to mind Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the celebrated 18th-century Italian engraver and his majestic visionary imagination. Kyriazi seems to reference above all Piranesi’s “Carceri d’Invenzione” — those mysterious spaces with the dramatic chiaroscuro, the illusionary architectural layout, the many uses and manipulations of perspective, the baroque illusory effects, the ambiguities and visual traps which challenge the mind and the imagination and “irrevocably involve the viewer in the creative process” . What Kyriazi learns from Piranesi is undoubtedly the visual power, the expressiveness of bright/dark, black/white but also of the tones in-between, the subtle gleams which create a poetics of space with metaphysical connotations.
The artist’s drawings keep all possibilities and eventualities open. Her fluid worlds without boundaries and delineations, full of the dynamism of the ambiguous and the non-finito, in whose scattered energy fields the nude human bodies dance, seem to become a metaphor for the very adventure of artistic creation, for the transformations and reformations of the creative process in its unending quest for forms and figures.
There is nothing static, final or readily accessible.
Kyriazi loves what has the potential for continuing, the hovering (literal as well as symbolic), the passage from the inside to the outside, man’s course from the interior to the exterior. She is fascinated by the fragmental, the hermetic, the familiar that turns enigmatic and forever elusive;
by ambiguity and an artistic language at once revelatory and cryptic. “Ruins talk to me about familiar codes I cannot break”, she writes somewhere, and elsewhere she speaks of “a mystical space with murals which mean something but I cannot interpret them; they are hermetic, and once I have read them they will mean nothing to me any longer”.
These works are like screens ‘ready” to receive any projections and readings on the part of the viewer—just like the open book with the blank pages at the end of the course’ of the work which completes the “abandoned codes”.

Dr.Aphrodite Kouria
Art Historian
Catalog essay for the exhibition The Dream and the Familiar''
Bibliography Section Catalog
"Tyranny of Light"

Manifest Presences: Mediators of Light
Thalia Vrachopoulos

The Tyranny of Light: Pelagia Kyriazi is an installation of animated digital and still images. This complex presentation depicts an environment composed of stairs/bars upon which is overlain an androgynous figure, who is absorbed/ exchanged sequentially and multi-dimensionally by/with its surroundings. Time is synchronic and diachronic as images of ground and figure interact, appear, disappear and criss-cross in spaces that metamorphose depending on the available light. The resulting figure-ground ambiguity serves to disorient the viewer enabling the questioning process to take place.
The concept spearheading this exhibition concerns light, space, and the human in their relationship to positive as well as negative connotations of these elements. The extracted multivalent readings about light and space enable the viewer to speculate, doubt and be amphibological about the world. Whereas light has always been treated as something positive it can also be, according to its context, interpreted as negative in its punitive blinding/burning aspects. Consequently, Kyriazi has engaged us with her images of positive and negative space as well as void-solid relationships. Her figures can be read as solid or as void depending on her use of line, or shadow and her atmospheres/void areas can also be viewed as solid ground. This interplay between presence/absence, solid/void are multi-layered values which depending on context and movement as well as texture and line, render her métier’s complexity.
Thematically, this video is related to Kyriazi’s series of photographs based upon light, space, and the body. It is created out of a single still image that combines many sequences into a video animation design whose repetition both transforms and intensifies spectator experience. Moreover, digital animation allows the viewer to speculate about the video’s multi-sensorial, multi-dimensional aspects combining music, poetry, light, image, and movement. The content of the narrative voiceover is indebted to Cavafy’s 1903 poem entitled “Windows.” His/her voice contains enough gender ambiguity to create further puzzling speculation. He/she speaks in the first person about his/her fears of imprisonment much like Cavafy’s nightmares.
The cynical, skepticism and its ensuing critical punning present in Kyriazi’s video images were qualities also present in Cavafy’s poetry that bespoke of sensuality, symbolism that are grounded in the ironies of life. These dramatic concepts manifest themselves in Kyriazi’s video as appearing/fading figure, sexually ambiguous characteristics both in the figural elements and voice, but most importantly in the mysterious shadows that alternate with brilliant light. The video’s ‘terribilitas’ elements are intensified by the eerie sounds of the musical score of Stockhausen’s Licht, which concludes in a series of helicopter sounds - possibly signaling the entrance of reality.

Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos
Professor of Art History and curator
Catalog essay for the exhibition ‘ Tyranny of Light’, 2003
Bibliography Section Catalog
"Tyranny of Light"
Time, Silence and Motion
Robert C. Morgan

Ancient stones tell their story. In them, we discover inscriptions from the past, and perhaps, a feeling of estrangement and isolation. The stones resonate with hope and hopelessness, the echo of silence and reverberations of light. The latter theme is an important one. The poet Cavafy suggests a kind of tyranny in light. A line from one of his poems reads: “Perhaps the light will be some novel tyranny/ Who knows what new things will show.” Here Cavafy does not refer to stones, but to windows – openings or apertures that allow us to see through into another space, into another world of perception, a new dimension of time.

In a life-size drawing installed in two panels by the artist Pelagia Kyriazi, one may discover an interesting paradox. On the surface of the larger panel, a male nude is seen from the dorsal view confronted the stone steps before him. The visual rhythm of the steps – inspired by the famous Pergamon Altar, transported from Asia Minor to Berlin more than a century ago – holds a nearly hallucinogenic effect. Within this unusual architectural context, Kyriazi’s male figure appears in a state of noble trepidation. His desire is to climb upward, and thus, to regain a sense of himself.

As a complement to the drawing, Kyriazi made a video-projection, entitled “Tyranny of Light” – a montage filled with overlays of images taken from the drawing, combined with other images and digital brushstrokes. By manipulating the stone steps through digital time, and by contrasting them with a view of Venetian blinds, a strange visual metaphor begins to emerge. Suddenly the hard obdurate stones – fraught with historical memory and conflict - are transformed into a source of light.

In viewing Kyriazi’s projection, we may ask whether the mythical figure in the foreground is searching for light or whether he is ascending upward to the stone terrace at the top? Is he Apollo or Sisyphus? Orpheus or Prometheus? Is he on a path toward the discovery of truth or is he doomed to repeat the same solipsistic journey over and over? We don’t know. But there is certain mannerist intensity about his pose as if he were caught within time. Kyriazi’s “Tyranny of Light” functions as a kind of animation, a study in the transmutation between one form and another. There is a deliberate ambiguity between the metaphor of the stones and the symbolic content of light. Immediately one is struck by how the artist has altered her classical forms and recycled them into a kinetic structure that resembles Analytic Cubism. Kyriazi reveals the shifting umber planes, the momentary response to time and space, and the facets of light congealing into a single instant. Clearly she is aware of the Cubist method in the way that objects are discerned from various angles. In addition to her formal integration of images, Kyriazi’s soundtrack includes a selection of music from the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen with a voice-over reading of Cavafy’s poem.

In “Tyranny of Light”, the conflicting elements of stasis and kinesis constitute an underlying theme throughout the video. In many ways, the video is a direct response to the drawing. Together they articulate the need to get within time as a release from those anxieties that distort our perception of reality. Indeed, Kyriazi’s work is about two of the major components of time: silence and motion. The interplay suggests balance as if through balance one might sense a feeling of hope in uncertain times.

Robert C. Morgan
Art critic and curator
Catalog essay for the exhibition ‘Tyranny of Light’, 2003
Bibliography Section Catalog
Athens, Patra, Santorini, Crete, Paros, Korinthos
Apostolos Zolotakis Art director, curator
Pelagia, page 37
Articles and Reviews

Bibliography Section Article

Behold the Man
Lilly Wei

Pelagia Kyriazi, a Greek-born, New York-based artist is primarily a painter who also works with manipulated digital photography. In this series of new work, called 'Walking Awaking', an ongoing project which has been the major focus of her energies for the past several years – which she characterizes as a metaphor for movement, where even its form is in movement – she explores her relationship to her Hellenic heritage from the perspective of New York, where she has lived since 1992.
Like many émigrés, distance has helped here see her relationship to her own tradition more clearly. Kyriazi’s ‘Walking Awake’ features a constant visual image, a charcoal and gouache drawing she has made of a naked, slightly over life-sized man.
Kyriazi’s anxious, solitary figure, stripped bare, a “figure without references”, is positioned a little to the left of center and is a full-length figure except for the loss of one foot, which is cut off by the edge of the paper, as if emphasizing the entrance into a fictive, 2-dimensional realm, leaving a trace behind in the real world. One leg is raised at an awkward angle as if about to climb the stairs in front of him, his exposed and vulnerable body pressed close to it.
There is nothing in front of him except the tiers of gloomy steps, band after rising endless band, inspired in part by the grand staircase of the Great Pergamum Altar, flanked by straining, twisting heroic gods and giants in battle with each other, the action breaking the plane, spilling out onto the staircase. Kyriazi first saw it several years ago when she was in Berlin and was profoundly affected by it as well as by the Hellenistic sites in Asia Minor, many of which were dedicated to ancient local deities, to the worship of chthonic goddesses mingled with rapturous Dionysian cults. Her man ignores us, his back turned to the viewer so we cannot see his face, concentrating on the Sisyphean task before him, as he begins his ascent, struggling to overcome gravity. He is clumsily outlined in black, his body both flat and modeled, the left side less hatched, scored, shaded and scrabbled than the right, an image of desire, hope and futility. The body and the stairs are streaked here and there with highlights of gold and silver gouache, a scattering of light to illuminate and break up the heavy, burdened grays, the chiaroscuro that Kyriazi considers to be more analytic, more abstract and also more dramatic.
From this one image on a 9’X5’ sheet of paper, originally joined to a slightly smaller drawing of stairs that could also be a horizontally banded abstract work, Kyriazi has generated her present exhibition. Using it as the basic visual unit, she is investigating in how many ways she can interpolate her proto-Prometheus, her heroic anti-hero, a creature of blind instinct and stubborn feeling whose movements are incipient, onerous, weighted down by counter forces.
She has photographed him from different angles using all kinds of different lighting and different light sources that are diffused, raking or direct, the actual light interacting or overriding the depicted light. Taking hundreds of photos of the image she has created and making a sequence out of selected images of this one pose, she destabilizes the singularity of the posture as she sets her figure in motion in a kind of animation, breathing life into him through repetition, an unfolding in time and space. The digital video she has made from these photographs, a compilation of changing states and racing thoughts, are spliced together with images of train tracks, windows, and corners of rooms. She associates the video with a poem, “Windows” by Constantine Cavafy, the celebrated Alexandrian poet of Greek descent. It describes the closeness, darkness, and despair of rooms without windows where light is refused entrance and being is held in existential abeyance, the narrator preferring the constrictions of the known to the uncertainty of the unknown. In a group of stills, she has also photographed herself dancing in front of her naked man in numerous choreographed poses, arms extended, head back.
Juxtaposing her image with that οf her creation, she comments on the age-old relationship between creator and the created, one which encompasses both self and other in a conflicted dynamic relationship of resistance and capitulation. She says that although her figure is male, it demonstrates female traits in its behavior and could be interpreted as a self-portrait.
But the self-portrait is mediated and complicated and necessarily duplicitous, composed of layers of reality. She also plans to make a montage out of the digital prints, turning them into a monotype, since as a painter she prefers to make unique objects. With the drawing of the stairs, Kyriazi wants to construct a more abstract installation. Using digital photography again, she can rotate and obscure the image in a number of ways so that the stairs are altered, almost crazed, buried beneath as in an archeological site. She is also planning to make a frieze of the stills from the video, a kind of deconstruction of the video or an extension of it so that the image is recontextualized once again in a continuous loop.
The frieze, in some sense, would articulate time, where each second, as a frame, is held and made visible. (George Duhamel, a French writer in the early days of cinema, said that what he disliked about film was that the images never stayed still.) Kyriazi’s strategy is expansive and metamorphic so that the work is always proliferating, spinning out, extending itself yet also returning to its source. In keeping with this variation on an image and a theme, she also plans to project her digital images over different kinds and textures of surfaces, not just plain walls, in order to explore as many formats as possible.
Again, she wants the details to become obscured, enigmatic, to put into question what it is that we really see and how contingent seeing is. It is contemporary theatre, a synthesis of new technology and old media, of the provisionality of the temporal and what might underlie it, updating the poetics of nostalgia. Kyriazi said a few years ago that in “America I felt for the first time that tradition is not impeded by the contemporary and that the most recent technological means could metamorphose the artist’s visual experience”. For her, this constituted a new beginning and ultimate freedom.

Lilly Wei
Art critic and curator
Essay on the drawing ‘Walking Awaking' and the relevant project 'Tyranny of Light'
Greek-American Review/July-August 2002
Bibliography Section Article


“…Fragments of the world, past, and present, a veiled suggestion of the human presence, layered, fused, and seared in light – all becomes quite magical… Your choices of media and materials certainly serve the impact of your work.
The inventive use of sandpaper in the Final Domicile screen prints instantly conjures up the seemingly deadpan, but quite affecting honesty of a grainy photograph, the texture of granite and the grit of the earth.”

Roberta Waddell
Curator of Prints
The New York Public Library
Art Athina 2007
Bibliography Section Article
The Lure of Diversity

‘The diminutive image need not be any bigger to effectively address the very large issues of isolation in a world that is packed with people who are alone in their own chambers. Poignantly, Pelagia Kyriazi, in her moving depiction of tombstones, communicates that isolation produced by the death of a preceding generation as well as the transience of life and of material things in this world. No one and few things survive forever.’

Marilyn Kushner, Curator
New Prints 2002/Autumn, IPCNY
Bibliography Section Article
"Οι μορφές της Πελαγίας Κυριαζή"

Το σώμα είναι πανταχού παρόν ακόμα κι όταν είναι διαμελισμένο, κατακερματισμένο ανάμεσα στους διάφορους ρόλους και τις στάσεις που επιτάσσει η κοινωνία και το όλον μέσα στο οποίο το ίδιο κινείται και αναζητά να βρει τη ψυχή, το πρόσωπο, που φέρει. Πινελιές έγχρωμες και έμψυχες, το χρώμα του αίματος και της ζωής αλλά και το ιώδες της ασάφειας, της σύζευξης θερμού-ψυχρού, η φθορά αλλά και οι επιθυμίες που επιβιώνουν και οι πληγές που χαίνουν, προβάλλουν και έλκουν την όραση, τις αισθήσεις. Η ζωώδης ροπή και οι χυμοί της ωριμότητας ξεχύνονται με τη μορφή σκίτσου, χρώματος, γραμμών και σκιών.

Η σκιά, όχι όμως σαν σύμβολο ούτε και σαν απεικόνιση, καταγράφεται σαν πέρασμα του χρόνου και της οδύνης της ίδιας της ύπαρξης, απαλείφει τα επί μέρους χαρακτηριστικά των προσώπων. Αποτυπώνοντας έτσι, το γεγονός: το περίγραμμα παραμένει αναλλοίωτο αλλά ό,τι διαμορφώνει το «πρόσωπο», την ιδιαίτερη χροιά, και εντύπωση που δημιουργεί ο ένας στον άλλον άνθρωπο, συνθλίβονται -ή πατινάρονται – από ένα πέρασμα που μπορεί να είναι είτε βίαιο είτε επαναλαμβανόμενο.

Η τεχνική αυτή παραπέμπει -κατά τη δική μου εντύπωση- σε σοβατισμένες τοιχογραφίες, στον μέγιστο Ε. Μουνκ αλλά και σε κάτι περισσότερο κοινωνικό παρά υπαρξιακό ή τεχνικό: στα καθεστώτα και στις συνθήκες που απαλείφουν την προσωπικότητα, που καθιστούν το άτομο σκιά, θα μπορούσε κανείς να ισχυριστεί, ίσως και εντελώς ανεξάρτητα από την πρόθεση της καλλιτέχνιδας…
Αφού Η Πελαγία Κυριαζή δηλώνει ότι η πρωταρχική εντύπωση είναι και ο οριστική, οπότε και στα έργα της, μένοντας πιστή σ αυτή τη δήλωση και παρότρυνση του Γύζη, τελειοποιεί τις μορφές και συνακόλουθα και τις εκφράσεις τους: απαλείφοντας ό,τι δεν αντέχει, στην ανάλυση, στην περαιτέρω αποκωδικοποίηση. Χωρίς να χάνει στιγμή την επαφή με τον μέσα κόσμο οι απεικονίσεις που θα μπορούσαν να αποδίδουν μία πομπή προσφύγων, ένα δέντρο νεκρωμένο ή τις δονήσεις μιας μοναδικής ψυχής, καθιστούν το έργο της πολυδιάστατο, οικουμενικό και πέρα για πέρα αυθεντικό.

Μαρία Ιωαννίδου