Edouard Sacaillan

Sacaillan Edouard
© Claire Dorn

Born in Thessaloniki in 1957, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student (1976-1981) of Dimitris Mytaras and Yannis Moralis. He pursued his studies in Painting thanks to a Spyridon Vikatos Athens School of Fine Arts scholarship which took him to the Parisian École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts where he was taught by Leonardo Cremonini (1984-1987). He has been awarded various painting distinctions:  the Prix de l’Académie de Médicine de France (1987), “The Τrophies of Colour, the Lefranc-Bourgeois National Award for Painting” (Lefranc-Bourgeois, Cirque d’Hivers, Paris, 1992), and the Painting Prize at the 18th Biennale of Alexandria (1994). Works by him can be found in Greek and international private and public collections. He resides and works in Athens and in Paris.


Solo Exhibitions


Les toits de Paris Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Viewers, audience, white horseman, mob and herd Teloglion Foundation for the Arts A.U.TH. Thessaloniki


Spectateurs & Bibelots Galerie Minsky Paris


WE Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Spectators Retrospective exhibition Espace Richaud Versailles


Galerie Minsky Paris


Morfi Gallery Limassol


Galerie Lefor Openo Paris


Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Affordable Art Fair Galerie Minsky New York


Edouard Sacaillan: The Artist’s Eye Frissiras Museum Athens


Spectators Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Viennafair 2008 Vienna (Kalfayan Galleries)


Utopias of Paradise Kalfayan Galleries Athens


Landscapes and People Ellinogermaniki Agogi Athens


Spaces with People Foundation of Thracian Art and Tradition Xanthi (Kalfayan Galleries)


Omikron Gallery Nicosia


Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Kalfayan Galleries Thessaloniki


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Galerie Lefor Openo Paris


Galerie Le Point Monte Carlo


The Crowd and the Child Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki


Amymoni Art Gallery Ioannina


Mylonoyanni Art Gallery Athens


Le Visage et la Foule Galerie Dionne Paris


Chryssa Gallery Katerini


Polyedron Art Gallery Patras


The Crowd and the Child Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Galerie Arichi Paris


Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki


Galerie Eonnet-Dupuy Paris


Municipal Art Gallery Kalamata


Heraklion Art Gallery Heraklion


Tiryns Gallery Karditsa


Agathi Art Gallery Athens


Ora Art and Cultural Centre Athens


Ora Art and Cultural Centre Athens


Municipal Gallery of Vouliagmeni Athens


The Spectators’ Labyrinth and the Miracle of Lovers in Edouard Sacaillan’s Paintings

The painter is a person who devours
the world with his eyes and gives it
back with his hands. Between his eyes
and hands are his head and
heart, and through them, there is
a kind of digestion and metamorphosis.1

Spectacle – spectator – puppet – aquarium – elevator
Origin – memory – physiognomy – identity
Desire – love – death – paradise
Enclosure – crowding – boredom – sadness – earthquake

The lost body of the society and the poet as existential wreck

We are living in an era where everything is on a massive scale. There is no representation of the subjective. No official language uses art as its truth. The technological image prevents you from recognising the subjectivism of a language; it does not allow us to imagine the different.2

Like the participants in “Big Brother”, Edouard Sacaillan’s multicoloured spectators are enclosed, crowded, and lined up by the painter one beside the other, with no distance between them, but also without interpersonal contact; they watch us as we watch them. And like the reality shows in which people are voluntarily closed up (consciously or unconsciously?) in a place where unknown but similar people co-habit, offering themselves as a spectacle-prey for these other viewers, the armchair peeping toms and cannibals, Sacaillan’s replica people seem to be offering their image, constantly alternating roles with their viewers in a labyrinth that may possibly show them the way out, together with their lost identity.

Like another Shakespearian play within a play,3 but also like the mirror in the Velázquez work which, as Foucault notes, “reflects nothing of what exists in the same room with it, but restores visibility in whatever remains outside the range of any vision”,4 the works of Sacaillan “do not function”, as he himself says, “as rooms, but as mirrors in which all of us who look at them can fit”.5 Thus, the mirror of the Spanish kings, but also the painter’s reversed easel in Sacaillan’s work, seems to become the figures of the viewers themselves that alternate with our own, observing us while we observe them, like that invisible point on a painting which, in both cases, wishes to reveal something. Something that, by extension, has to do with individuality, differentiation, the tragic condition of contemporary civilisation, the strange, the absurd, but also the miraculous. This is why the multi-colour, which is at the same time the multi-sound, of Sacaillan’s work – this labyrinthine visual surface that reveals labyrinthine spaces, within which similar but never identical people are crowded, confined, gathered together and in the end closed in – appears ultimately to play the role of the mirror in his work, which is that of the “broken mirror”, as he calls it, implying “his misgivings about stereotypes”, while pointing out “the fragmentary nature of the image”.6 Something that has to do both with the invisible point at which those we observe become ourselves, as well as with the broader dimension of absence, or rather of Lacanian “trauma” that affects the lost “encounter with the real”.7

It is precisely this lost encounter with the real that the artist seems to suggest when he points out the specific difference between painting and photography, but also when he speaks of “the problem of depicting man”, explaining that the “depiction is what makes man massproduced”.8 This may also be the reason why, in his observation that “people must look at themselves”,9 we in turn should seek the same role, not only of his multicoloured viewers, but also of the shop window – which either exists, such as in “Elevator”, “Cars”, “Working at Computers” or “Audiences at an Audiovisual Assembly”, or is a non-existent or rather invisible façade, as in “Evening Stroll”, “Ship’s Passengers”, “Children Viewers” and “Schoolgirls and kaleidoscope”. This transparent glass window of shops, restaurants, cars and elevators, like another “screen projecting both the confusion of the imaginary and the conditions of enclosure”, also reveals all these “human replicas, i.e. shop window dummies or funfair puppets, that function as models and frequently create inhuman impressions and desires”.10 Thus we could argue that the shop window further underlines the significance of depiction of the image as well as that of the viewers; those who inhabit the works and, as the artist says, “whose environment is the others”,11 but also those who, “as viewers and peeping toms, discover that they are being watched by the faces in the painting”, as Moutsopoulos points out,12 and gradually become aware that they are being led to a different kind of viewing, which this time has to do rather with self-observation through the figure of the other who resembles me, who drives a similar car, who stands in queues, who is trapped in traffic congestion, in movie theatres, on the ship or in the countryside.

Using these means, but also through the black figure that slips in among the crowd, and that gives form to the artist’s “uneasy awareness of progress and its effects on the ordinary man as an individual”,13 and consequently, of his personal alienation, Sacaillan levels “a vital criticism by instinct”,14 at the very moment that he is setting up a powerful, iconoclastic linguistic structure, the basic aim of which is “the restoration of the subject”,15or whatever we could conceive as a reconnection with subjective identity and language, a reinvention and re-expression of diversity.

At the same time, through the portraits “Girl”, “Woman on the Terrace”, “Aery Face”, “Woman with Child”, “Big Boy”, “Villager”, “Desperate Man”, “Adornement of Sorrow” and “The Poet’s Parents”, Sacaillan appears to be revealing another dimension. The trauma no longer concerns the lost body of the society, but is related to the subject’s desire to determine his own identity. In an expression that suggests reflection and concern together, in face of the awareness of lost innocence, the loss of the past and impossibility of being reconnected with it, these people, Sacaillan’s beloved, seem to be in that borderline place that separates but also joins together the social and the existential man. The dressed and the naked man, the erotic body of the “Lovers of 2005”, “Sleep”, “Lovers in Front of the Bookcase”, or “In Paradisum”, which as Sacaillan says, “reveal desire for the other, to diminish the trauma of loneliness”. Besides, “trauma is what renders a person erotic”.16

In the artist’s view, these works “either reveal a friendly, harmonious, and not at all hostile place” (“In Paradisum”), or “they abolish space completely by absolute dedication of one person to another” (“Lovers”).17 We, in turn would say that they bring us closer to the exit from the labyrinth of replicas, images, closed spaces and the enclosure of desire. This is why, here too, space is either completely abolished, and is a “non-space”, in Sacaillan’s term, or it becomes miraculous, without showcases, aquaria or screens. With the nudes in particular, “this social reality of the postmodern culture that becomes transmuted into a desert full of mirrors, as every object gazes at its abstract essence in another, etc” as Terry Eagleton has observed18, and as is somehow revealed in the works with the viewers, ceases to exist as such. On the contrary, interpersonal contact, sexual intercourse, fantasy, and the desire of and for the other are approaching the exit from the labyrinth, while limiting or abolishing the frustration of desire and the oppression of pleasure as the basic features of “civilisation and its discontents”.19

Therefore, through what the artist describes as “anti-monumental and eccentric works”,20 Sacaillan is able to level this “animal-biological criticism”, as he calls it, a kind of anti-rhetoric, against the conditions that define the modern era, as well as against individuals who have eliminated the limits of their resistance and are carried along by this multicoloured labyrinth that deprives them of personal identity and critical thought. The difference here is that in his depiction of the “society of spectacle”, i.e. the modern society which, as in Debord, appears to “proclaim itself an enormous pot-pourri of spectacles, where whatever constituted direct experience has now been relegated to depiction and implies the non-real of the real society”,21 Sacaillan also portrays the black figure and the nude body. They are the existential man who subjectifies social depictions, “combining observation with idealisation”, in the sense of a “subjective realism that is frequently miraculous”, i.e. lending the dimension of desire and consequently of imagination to “the individual’s anxious expression as existential testimony and anguish”.22


Irene Venieraki
PhD Aesthetics and History of Art
University of Athens
Communication and Media Department
May 2009
* From the catalogue of the group exhibition “The Perspective of Time – Pictorial Histories: Paintings from the Sotiris Felios Collection”, Benaki Museum – Pireos Str. Building (138 Pireos St.), Athens, 2009.
[1] Roger Garaudy, “D’un réalisme sans rivages – Picasso, Saint-John Perse, Kafka”, foreword by Louis Aragon, Paris, 1963.
[2] Edouard Sacaillan, “Conversation with Irene Venieraki”, in her unpublished doctoral thesis in Greek: “Art and Politics – The Metamorphoses of Realism in the Works of Christos Bokoros, Vana Xenou, Giorgos Rorris and Edouard Sacaillan”. National and Capodistrian University of Athens, 2009.
[3] Myrto Rigou, “Hamlet the Reader”, Athens, 2000.
[4] Michel Foucault,“The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences”, transl. by Kostis Papagiorgis, Athens 1993.
[5] Edouard Sacaillan, “Conversation with Irene Venieraki”, Athens, 15/05/2009.
[6] Thanassis Moutsopoulos, “Edouard Sacaillan”, Athens 2007.
[7] Jacques Lacan, “Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse”, Paris 1973 and Hal Foster. “Le retour du réel – Situation actuelle de l’avant-garde”. Brussels, 2005.
[8] Edouard Sacaillan…, op. cit 15/05/2009
[9] Venieraki, op. cit.
[10] Edouard Sacaillan, “Conversation with Michalis Mitras”, in “E. Sacaillan”, exhibition catalogue, Zoumboulakis Galleries, Athens 1999, and Moutsopoulos, op. cit.
[11] Moutsopoulos, op. cit.
[12] Moutsopoulos, op. cit.
[13] “Ε. Sacaillan”, exhibition catalogue, Zoumboulakis Galleries, Athens 2003
[14] Edouard Sacaillan…, op. cit. 15/05/2009
[15] Venieraki, op. cit.
[16] Venieraki, op. cit.
[17] Edouard Sacaillan…, op. cit. 15/05/2009
[18] Terry Eagleton, “The Ideology of Aesthetics”, scholarly editing Pepi Rigopoulou, transl. and ed. by Esperides – S. Rigopoulou, Athens 2006.
[19] Sigmund Freud, “Civilisation and Its Discontents”, transl. Giorgos Vamvalis,Athens, 1994.
[20] Edouard Sacaillian, op. cit. 1999
[21] Guy Debord, “La Société du Spectacle”, Paris, 1992
[22] “Sacaillan – Utopias of Paradise”, text: E. Sacaillan, Kalfayan Galleries, Athens