Friday 27 September 2013

Vassilis Perros

Fereoikon Anamnisis, by Vassilis Perros at Skoufa Gallery
Fereoikos: Someone who carries their home with them, be it a human being, or an animal: a snail for instance
Anamnisis: Memories

We went to the gallery on opening day so were able to meet the artist and had an interesting and illuminating discussion with him.
The suitcase, or baggage, with its many connotations: as a metaphor for every kind of impediment not allowing one to proceed forward; emotional baggage; memories that give us relief; travel - is the central and recurring theme of this exhibition. The symbol of the suitcase is repeated over and over again with many different readings and interpretations ranging from a violent departure to the welcome escape to the unknown. Migration, loss, loneliness - the idea of carrying one's home on one's back, of the dispossessed, the dislocated, the displaced, the migrants, the refugees, comes up over and over in this thought-provoking exhibition. And language - words spilling out of everywhere: mouths, suitcases, doors...
Some of his paintings have a photographic realism, the roots of which are to be found in Vermeer, a technique that has been further developed so stunningly by Gerhard Richter. Some of Perros' paintings have such a sharp clarity that they suggest optical precision.
Every Suitcase Tells a Story, 2013, (oil on decoupaged canvas and print on transparent film)
Fereoikos I, 2010 (oil on canvas) 
Fereoikos II, 2010 (oil on canvas)
The faces of the past inhabitants of the house in red
Fereoikos III, 2010, (sculpture - paper, wood, wire, aluminium, clay)
Fereikos IV, 2010 (sculpture: clay, paper, wood, fabric, wire, hair, resin)
Leaving Smyrna, 2011 (oil and collage on canvas) 
Kavvadias, 2012 (oil on canvas)
So much infinite sadness involved in travel ...: some of the words that are coming out of the mouth in the portrait

Discovering I, 2009 (oil on canvas)

Discovering II, 2013 (oil on canvas)

Hopes, dreams, experiences, memories...
My Secret Passion II, 2011 (oil on wood)
I have a secret wish, I have an old obsession, I have a secret dream....


My Secret Passion II, 2011 (oil on wood)
I have a secret dream, I have an old desire
In a Hurry to Leave, 2012 (oil in decoupaged canvas)


A Final Glance, 2012 (oil and engraving on wood)
The Face of Exile I, 2010 (oil and engraving on a wooden replica of a suitcase)
The Face of Exile II, 2013 (photo mosaic from 1800 portraits of refugees)


looking closer

Refugee I, 2011 (oil on wooden replica of a suitcase)

Refugee III, 2010 (oil on wooden replica of a suitcase)

Family Home I, 2010 (oil and engraving on wooden replica suitcase)

Family Home II, 2012 (oil on wooden replica of a suitcase)

Family Home III, 2009, (oil on wooden replica of a suitcase)

'From time to time I get a mental picture of my family home, a blurred image, but never forgotten. The old tree with the swing that we used to play with when we were young. Do strangers stop, I wonder.....'

Like Earth II, 2009 (oil and collage on canvas) 



Like Earth I, 2009 (oil and collage on canvas)


looking closer


and closer

The Great Voyage, 2013, (oil on canvas)


Internal Journey, 2013 (oil on canvas)
Wayfarer I, 2010 (oil on canvas)

Wayfarer II, 2010 (oil on canvas)

Wayfarer III, 2010 (oil on canvas)


Wayfarer IV, 2010 (oil on canvas)

Illegal Immigrant, 2010, (oil on canvas)

Attempting the Impossible, 2011 (oil on canvas)


And in These Same Neighbourhoods You Will Grow Old,  (C.P. Cavafy), 2011, (oil on canvas and transparent film)
The City: C.P Cavafy
You said: 'I'll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies - buried - as though it were something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I've spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally'.
You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighbourhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don't hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you've wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you've destroyed it everywhere else in the world.
(translated Edmund Keely/Philip Sherard)

A corner of the gallery

I Need Light I, 2013 (oil and ink on canvas)

I Need Light II, 2013, (oil and ink on canvas)

In the Garbage, 2009, (oil on canvas)


I did not manage to get the title of this painting.



  1. Absolutely stunning stuff. It also coincidentally feeds into thinking I've been doing recently about memory, and about my yiayia's background in Trapezous. Thank you so much for this.

    1. I loved the exhibition, Olga - the photographic quality of the brushstroke, the way the theme was developed in so many different ways and so consistently, the haunting quality of the paintings. He said that art should speak to the heart and his paintings certainly did that with me.

      On a different note, am I right in thinking that your mother was Greek?

    2. Yes, my mother was born in Ithaki, her mother having been pregnant when they were shipped out of Trapezous in 1922. They then went to live in Xanthi until my grandfather died suddenly just before WWII, and thence they went to live in Thessaloniki with my great uncle. It was in Thessaloniki that my father, a soldier with a Scottish regiment met my mother and married in 1947.

    3. A very Greek family history - exodus following the Asia Minor Catastrophe and then migration. And Ithaki, such a mythical island for the Greeks. Unbelievably, I have not been to any of the places you mention: I must rectify this.