The Breeder is pleased to announce, “Blue Soldier – Opera Costumes ” an exhibition of new works by Greek born, Vienna based artist Jannis Varelas. This presentation marks a new phase in the artist’s stylistic maturation, as the extravaganza of exotic, anarchic images, which embellished characters from his earlier works, has given way to a smoother more heraldic style that highlights a clear refinement of content, compositional sobriety and individual attitude.
Each work in this particularly phantasmagoric series is constructed from angular geometric elements and sharp calligraphic strokes. Etched in charcoal or painted in gouache this underlying compositional structure supports Varelas’ increasingly complex and stylized form of mixed media collage. The surface of each work is graced by a collection of uncanny faces and cryptic symbols taken from tribal antiquity, as well as contemporary fashion. These mask-like compositions, often arranged in vertical columns, form almost totemic structures that give rise to Varelas’ colossal human figures. The artists great elaboration on decorative elements from his earlier works has also led to a signature halo effect, which crowns these hybrid titans. Like dark, feathery auras, these radiating streaks of graphite are often drawn around the creatures’ heads or encompass a specific symbolic element, accentuating its motion or power.
Figurative assemblages such as these seem to emerge from a deeply subconscious space floating between Jungian Archetypal theory, stern Modernist deco and Hanna Hochs or Lizzitskys most minimal collage works. Beneath the masks and halos, each work, like each solo exhibition of Varelas, is part and parcel of a larger narrative on the psychosynthesis of an individual, group or social space. This series, entitled Proletkult -X Opera Costume, is a collection of statements on contemporary class structure and struggle, viewed through the action of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (A Remembrance of Things Past). Each figure or “costume” represents those ideological weapons that successive generations of dissident artists have used to identify and question cultural hegemony. With subtle references to severe deco and Theophil von Hansen’s Athenian neo-classicism, Proletkult-X Opera Baron de Charlus is also the anthropomorphic set design for staging this metaphorical battle. It is the symbolic representation of that seat of power which creative dissidence has always sought to depose.
Jannis Varelas was born in 1977 and is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London. In 2008 he was included in the New Orleans Biennial Prospect 1 which was curated by Dan Cameron. His works has also been presented in the exhibition Skat Players, curated by Sarah McCrory in Vilma Gold Gallery in London and in the exhibition Jekyll island, curated by Max Henry in Honor Fraser gallery in Los Angeles. In 2007 he participated in the 1st Athens Biennial “Destroy Athens” which was curated by Xenia Kalpaktzoglou, Poka Yio and Augustine Zenakos.