Is ‘Work on Portraits’ a
dis/continuation of unfinished “Surnaissance”? What does this word mean?
“Work on portraits” is more intimate. “Surnaissance” comes from Renaissance and Surrealism and it was a rather ambitious
project. I asked myself: «How do you create
portraits that resemble classic paintings but have a
generous dose of surrealistic elements (as far as composition is concerned) that
somehow look modern? The themes of «Surnaissance»
taken from Greek
mythology and then filtered by my approach. I was unable to
complete the project, so I decided I had to express myself in a
more intimate and
Do they look like paintings due to
their painterly effects or because of their sense of realism?
They look like paintings due to their painterly effects
and I feel they surprise the viewer only because they are not paintings. However, this is not
the full answer. The more I go on with new portraits, the less I find myself
using the techniques I developed for my previous work. The painting allure is still there but where
does it come from? Is it the composition? I’ve come to believe that my images look
like paintings only because my approach is such.
release says that Beatrice recalls a ‘contemporary’ Renaissance
portrait, why? The humanism aspect? Da Vinci’s detail to
composition? Colour? A cloud is like saint’s halo? Can you give me some clues, since
the pose and lighting do not fit that category?
It’s funny you mention Da Vinci, as I have always
considered there to be a certain resemblance between «Beatrice» and his Mona Lisa. My
initial intention however, was not at all that. The creation of this specific
image was pure instinct. The face was photographed in the garden of the Dutch
Embassy in Athens. I took several photographs of her under a cloudy uniform
natural light. I had in mind a very conservative image of a girl’s profile in
front of a round stained-glass window in a room. «Work on Portraits» became
quite «in the open air» so that idea was dropped. I was going through my
archives at the computer when I came across this cloud picture. The rest is
history. «Beatrice» took me 3 minutes to compose (it actually consists of 3
photos, a Cretan cloud, a Cretan sea horizon and the face) and about 6-7 hours
for the light and colour manipulation. It
was only afterwards I realised it recalled (to my
eyes at least) the infamous portrait of Leonardo. Why? I thought it is
because of the light (but you claim this is not the case) or maybe due
the rounded harmonious feeling it transmits. The face does look
directly at us and the background is substantially more simple than
what we’d expect from a
«Renaissance» portrait, but then it is much more meaningfully active
enigmatic smile is still there, retouched (I want to believe) to
perfection. A curiosity. The initial title of the image was, «The
You talk about communication being an essential element to the notion of
the aesthetic object in terms of ‘art’ –
are you familiar with Batkhtin at all?
Not at all. I did some quick research to understand
your point of view and the connection of his philosophy to my opinion on the
communicating ability of the aesthetic object in art. His terms of «Chronotope»
or even «dialogized heteroglossia» (why not) seem to mirror my way of thinking.
I guess I’ll have to disagree with his
saying that «the author is tangential to the work’s chronotopes and that every
image is created, and not a creating thing», but then again I might have got it wrong. Let me finish this answer by
paraphrazing one of his aforisms: «an image in a picture is half someone
Do all your subjects perform for the camera – willingly? Do you
encourage them to perform as themselves or as the other? Is it a performance of
identities and sexualities, both together, or none of the above?
I can’t remember someone who refused to pose when I
asked him to ( I am sure that will eventually happen). People fancy modelling
or maybe they fancy modelling for me. They are hardly ever instructed to
perform as anyone or anything else, so I presume they perform as themselves.
When they see the final photo however, they don’t feel it’s them. I always tell
them « it’s another you»!
Is each shot preconceived in its entirety ?
Only sometimes, consciously speaking.
The theatricals – which later become pictures – are they researched?
They are. «When» and «how» are always relevant.
Are they rehearsed?
«The storm» was the only one actually rehearsed and
maybe «The hunter».
Are they stage-managed?
Yes and no.
Are the props carefully chosen?
No, it’s more a question of «carefully combined».
Are costumes sewn for the scenes?
Are they actors in a grand saga and play their role according?
Eventually they become so, I guess, both in an absolute and abstract
Do the actors assert a degree of authorship in the work?
I’d lie if I said no. It’s a bidirectional creative
procedure. Only they don’t know it.
Do the backgrounds refer to the exotic and primitive other?
I am not sure I understand the question, Pamela.
Are you refering to «Takis»?
As director/producer of your visual dramas/landscapes, do you have full
control even to the last word?
Of course. I am too romantic to believe it will ever
happen otherwise and too stuborn to let it happen as well.
Are you aware of the contemporary debates concerned with representations
of the child in photography? For example, American audiences would see the
black boy with the
ball as provocative … whatever. What I mean is that when
images of kids are taken out of the private realm of the family album and made
into a public spectacle in the art
gallery or museum they can operate as a
critical edge in some respects. How do you see these two photos of the Chinese
and African boys?
I am very happy you ask this question. If you read my
comments on these two particular photos you’ll notice that I do mention the
appeareance of kids’ relatives at the
of shooting. You see, I am aware of how mistakenly some people tend to
interpret child figures in artistic presentations (and not only this) so I felt I
had to be extra careful.
What do you think is the relevance of the self-portrait? Is it more
revealing than a portrait the artist/photographer makes of the sitter?
That depends from which side you’re looking at it
Photographers who formulate ‘original’ ways of photographing are
considered to be self-expressive in their approach – in fact there is a belief
among photographers who use self-expression that every photo is a
self-portrait. What do you think about this assertion?
I have to agree. Let me also point out that the
more observant you are, the more you’ll figure out about someone else just by
looking at his work. You see, things have to work this way since: «We all are
What other uses can self-portraits be put to?
They can perform a wonderful job as a reflection of
Does your work engage with one or any critical
discourses? If so, what are they? For example, deconstruction, post-modernism, the dialectic of absence/presence, theories of representation etc..
While I am aware of theories (mostly of Greek
philosophers) about art as a medium of representing the world,through deconstruction,
modernism and post-modernism, I am in no position to provide you with a decent
or maybe a sincere evaluation. Quite simply, «I don’t know».
When we look through at photographs, it is through the eyes of the
photographer, understood as occupying a masculine position. The implicit
aggression of the photo act – aiming the camera, shooting the picture – is
literalised when the image examines the female or child body. Being a male
yourself ION, what do think about this theory?
It is enough to photograph someone
you like or maybe be photographed by someone you like, in order to understand
that this theory is valid.
Are the frames between the artifice and the real,
clear cut in your work?
If you asked Roger’s opinion he would say
that «I make Real, Art.» I’ll borrow this
specific phrase as a (hopefully satisfying) answer to your question.
The Hunter – is that wheat in the foreground or grass?
It is grass.
What is the plant in Wendy’s portrait?
In English I think it’s called pampas grass. In Greek,
I don’t know..
Are you going to use all the shots on your web site or are you going to
A selection has been made of 14 images. I am strongly
considering one more, though, that’s
nowhere to be found on my site, to be revealed at the exhibition.
Have you got any more surprises like the Rebecca one?
Of course I have.
Rebecca’s portrait is really fabulous – quite something.
I like it, that you like it!