Vlassis Caniaris: Selected Works 1960s – 1980s 

Thursday 05 Oct 2023 – Saturday 18 Nov 2023

Produced in the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, this is the first solo presentation of the artist’s work in London since his exhibition Immigrants at the ICA in 1976.

Vlassis Caniaris (1928-2011) remains one of the most important Greek artists of his generation. Having left Greece in the late 1950s to live and study in Rome and Paris, he lived in Berlin in the early 1970s, before returning to Athens in 1976 (two years after the fall of the Greek military dictatorship), where he remained until his death in 2011. Caniaris abandoned traditional art materials in favour of plaster, paper and wire mesh, to create works which he called ‘almost sculptures’.  

Caniaris’ large-scale installations were formed by everyday objects, including newspapers, clothing (often his own and his family’s), suitcases and children’s toys, to imagine and portray the experiences of migrant workers and their families in the 1970s. His series of standing, faceless figures builds a mood which brings to mind the reception greeting people arriving in unfamiliar lands for all sorts of reasons all over the world today.  

Focusing on the working and living conditions of ‘guest workers’ – the migrants who travelled to Western Europe following the transnational agreements of the 1950s – these ‘mises-en-scène’ reflect the unstable reality of displacement, social exclusion, national identity and contested citizenship. This exhibition presents large-scale theatrical installations and smaller, wall-based work, dealing with the themes of immigration and social inequality which preoccupied Caniaris throughout his life.  


Image: Vlassis Caniaris, Possible Background, 1974. Mixed media, 225 x 540 x 110 cm. Courtesy the artist and A/D Gallery. Photo: ©Nikos Markou. Presented as part of the D.Daskalopoulos Collection Gift to Tate.


This exhibition is supported by:


The Hellenic Centre




Tue, Wed, Thu: 11:00 – 20:30
Fri, Sat: 11:00 – 17:00
Sun, Mon: closed