Ilias Karras

Karras Ilias

Born in Ivanovo (Russia) in 1973, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student of Rena Papaspyrou and Marios Spiliopoulos. He also studied Graphic Arts Technology at the Athens Technological Educational Institute, where he specialised in art prints by the medium of silkscreen printing. He lives and works in Athens.


On Art and His Art: Ilias Karras

The painter Ilias Karras talks of his relationship with art, whereby he seeks personal fulfilment. He describes his painting as anthropocentric, with himself as its innermost theme. He explains how he poses fundamental philosophical questions through his work, which seek to be answered in the dialogue between the viewer and the work itself. He also refers to the monochromatic nature of his work, where the question of time dominates through the timeless figures and the texture. Describing the creative process that he follows, he highlights the sculptural character of his painting, aimed at rendering wear and volume. He identifies the question of the human presence as a dominant feature of the Sotiris Felios Collection, and points out that the collector has always selected the first painting from each of his series, which functions as the linchpin.

Solo Exhibitions


The Dialectical Reconstruction of the Visible Athens Art Gallery Athens


The Alchemy of the Figure Athens Art Gallery Athens


The Colour of the Nude Athens Art Gallery Athens


The Power of Instinct Art Gallery of Protogenous Street Athens


Human Curves VR Gallery Athens


Forms II Kythera


Forms Skiathos


Timeless and Genderless Figures on a Palimpsest of Layers and Abrasions

The works of Ilias Karras are figures that float in a timeless vortex, like rock formations in a landscape of grey.

The figures that comprise an imaginary funerary frieze in Ilias Karras’s exhibition seem to float or hover. They bring to mind Roman busts, cut off and sprinkled with ashes, like fragments from an excavation or grey-coloured spoils from a shipwreck. They are, in their majority, the heads of children, like romantic lockets in a timeless swirl. Scattered females figures, like renaissance Madonnas, look like human shells frozen in a momentary expression.

In his solo show, running at the Athens Art Gallery at the moment, Ilias Karras continues his investigation into the unseen and the hinted invocation of a common human condition. “Bringing out the materiality of the figure,” says the painter, “with wear and corrosion, creates an ephemeral image of man, thus rendering a timeless and genderless quality to the faces, which is reinforced by the fine, earthly shades of grey, whereby colour is now but a memory”. What captures the gaze is the technique, which delivers the figures with the false extroversion of a sculpture to a canvas that is a palimpsest of layering and peeling.

“The method and the process, as well as the management of my painting surface, are a sculptural approach to my work,” Ilias Karras notes. “I add certain materials while I prepare the canvas, as well as colour (oil paint, oil pastel), to create several layers, and I paint by removing them. This way, I dig and peel off the figure, leaving abrasions and scrapes. Next, I carefully cut and arbitrarily tear off the figure, fixing it imperfectly, with creases, on a neutral (timeless) grey surface, producing now the traditional values of sculpture: texture and volume”.

In the case of Ilias Karras, who has the true makings of an artist, philosophical and reflective, releasing this series of paintings to the public is also making a stand. “Thematically, I am in sync with the current social situation, focusing on the gaze of a child and putting it forward as a personal, philosophical question. The multiple levels of interpretation make it hard for me to identify a single message, and so I will stay with my original stimulus, my attempt to ‘peel off space’.”


Nikos Vatopoulos
* “Kathimerini” newspaper, 24/11/2016.