An Artist 'Who Paints in Poetry' EXHIBITION: Kalorkoti Has No Englishness, Calling Himself 'A World Modernist'

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Byline: JUDITH BUMPUS

PANAYIOTIS Kalorkoti has created a new light and colour spectacular: a gallery of theatrical encounters with figures from the theatre, cabaret and night clubs, together with their onlookers or audiences.

There is a buzz of occasion about his paintings, although he might well have caught his effects in more mundane circumstances, under a street lamp for example, or in a lighted doorway at night, in a tube or on a bus.

Whatever their source, these are unmistakably pictures of the city in which Kalorkoti attempts to fix a stream of constantly shifting impressions and memories.

In the city life moves fast. Everyone is on the go.

Expressions and gestures are only half-glimpsed, yet leave an indelible trace in the mind.

But we should not look for literal descriptions in Kalorkoti.

He paints in poetry, not prose, interpreting his perception of urban life, of the individual and the crowd in colourful designs and patterns.

The title Moving Figures is a useful catch-all for a theme which suggests unending variations.

We follow Kalorkoti from one group of paintings to the next, from the exuberant movement of dancing figures, twisting and turning in a sparkle of lights, to moments of suspended animation in which banks of faces, looming out of the dark, watch and wait.

We seem to recognise the plot but will never see it through on one or any visit.

We don't need to, for Kalorkoti's work succeeds by psychological hints and nudges.

What he offers us in his pictures are proposals, half-serious, half-playful, for making sense of a chaotic world.

"My pictures are not about modern life anymore, " he says.

"There are about humanity, about being alive.

"Viewers will approach my work with their own history." Kalorkoti himself is both watcher and performer.

His reputation as an observer, or collector, of human behaviour derives from his figurative work of the mid-1980s.

The naturalistic treatment of those early figures is still apparent in the more traditional compositions in this exhibition, paintings such as Youth and Listener, both of 1995 and the earliest work in the show. He says, "Youth grew from my observation of a youth, but then took off." For some years now it has been evident that Kalorkoti's imagination fuels his work. …