Kalaizis: Well, not so long ago, I painted a figure form recent history for the first time in my career. It was Pope Benedict XVI, and I had great doubts about the project. You’ll probably now ask, »why?« Because the biggest challenge in painting him was to make myself free from all my opinions regarding his person. I didn’t want it to be an exaltation of his figure or an unjust criticism. See, I’m not interested in being the decorator or caricaturist of my personal political views. This approach is in part also motived by my own desire not to be politically agitated when I look at paintings, but also by the desire to not be the collaborator of political agitation myself. This position is what agrees with my thinking, because I reject ideology. As a painter I’d like to create a realm of possibilities in which there is enough space for the most diverse interpretations. And that’s the hardest thing. Because art projects must be of a sublime nature, not just the document of a moment, else they won’t survive the test of time.
Campbell: Does that mean paintings are navigated via form rather than subject?
Kalaizis: Exactly. For it is precisely the history of art that shows us how little it is shaped by ideas, but by forever new achievements of form.
Campbell: What about making statements through artworks?
Kalaizis: The painting – as I said – simply imparts information which may or could be formulated to statements by the beholder. But the statement is not made by the painter. It’s made by the beholder. Those statements change over the course of time and also from beholder to beholder. That’s why we admire the paintings by El Greco or Ribera, because we are constantly challenged by them. But if those painters hadn’t found their form then we wouldn’t deal with them today – it’s that simple.
2013, 144 pages, hardcover, 221 coloured ill., incl. 40 details, 29 x 37 cm;