Thanasis Lalas: his pluralistic creativity does not cease to impress us. Journalist, subversive, imaginative, he managed to ensure revealing interviews from the most distinguished and often hard to reach personalities. A writer, publisher of original prints and businessman and now an artist, it was the last thing we expected. With a rather justified reservation I heard him for the first time talking to me about his new passion. However, when I went through that padded book, something between a journal and a sketchbook, I was shocked. A graphic meditation, a “reflexive” writing, spontaneous, brash and at the same time controlled was filling its white pages. Through curvilinear single strokes of the pen monsters where jumping out of its pages. A demonic oestrus seemed to be guiding the hand of the artist, armed with simple writing tools, markers and even humble pens.
A hybrid world, an unprecedented and grotesque humanity, coexisting with strange creatures, plants and decorative motifs were emerging through this “random” intertwining of lines. A world, that for the first time had a recognizable identity: unrestrained imagination, humor and a sense of rhythm. These traits were seen unveiling in the sketches that were presented fot the first time in Athinaida.That is where I deposited my first thoughts on Thanasis Lalas’ “imaginary world”.
Did the neophyte of artistic creation know his ancestors in “automatic writing”, the surrealists? I doubt it. I think that Thanasis Lalas discovered his abilities by chance, but he developed them methodically. From sketches on paper he moved on to canvases, and from colored markers to temperas, oil and acrylics. A reckless transition, because the line and action could have lost their oestrus and their “automation”.
Thankfully none of that happened. Contrary, the large surfaces freed vital space for the imaginary creatures that claimed a bigger stage in order to develop their devilish act in “The commedia dell'arte” of Lalas’ painting. The colour, clear and shiny stretching on large placard-like surfaces, which are confined by linear limits, is “local” and decorative. It alternates and balances surfaces with linear decorative motifs, preserving that feeling of rhythm and balance in the composition.
Thanasis Lalas’ painting correlates to the Art Brut, but keeps the benefits of originality and authenticity. The invincible vital feeling that it oozes, its humor and gaiety that are infectious, act as a positive antidote in the general dejection of the times that we live in.
Professor of Art History
Director of the Greek National Gallery