13 September 2020
A New Balance

When you look at 60 winning images but can't distinguish more than 5 photographers, you know there is a problem.
Worst of all? You don't even bother to learn their names.
Where is the variety and the balance? Where is the distinct language and where is the honesty?
When everything looks like a frame taken from a Netflix documentary or a sci-fi episode, one has to wonder; eventually, where is the artistry?
Personally, I can't see anything esoteric in an image of an African family in the village or of a Mongolian child striking a pose in natural surroundings  - the underlining political incorrectness (to put it elegantly) is annoying and no social awareness facade will save it for me.
A true artist must always stand outside the school of standardization and (most importantly) be true to oneself.

Do you see that happening?

The democratizing of the means has opened the Pandora's box door. An ocean of people is now doing art, but has the number of true artists really increased?
I don't think so. Art has become too technical or too easy and it repeatedly gets awarded for that.

So, if critics aren't doing their work of balancing out and enforcing variety, what do they do?
Are they one more part in the production chain of a well-lubricated factory and if so, do they enforce their position by doing that or do they achieve the exact opposite in the long run?
If there is one area in which they could prove themselves "useful" it would be in putting together a clear, precise and short definition of what makes an artwork good. That's all!
A definition that would put things in order much like a chronometer does in a 100m race.
But, I have the feeling that they can't.
Partly because they lack the natural instict of understanding art* and partly because their job is strictly related to the art market which in reality is killing art much more than promoting it.
Curators as well! Facebook algorithm already does a brilliant job of putting together my different images in the review column in a conceptually working order automatically!
How fascinating is that? And it will only get better..

In my mind, photography is a way of exploring one's inner self by looking outside.
The fact that everyone is treating it like a stylized visit to the zoo is a sign of the times which I find utterly blind and a new balance has to acquire a voice.
In art and everywhere else to be honest..



Bob Sleigh: How do we "see" when we can't see? Is what we see (when we can't see) determined by our own experiences? How do you explain sight to a blind person?
ION: What we see or feel is a combination of memory and experience along with dictation and physical interaction. People's minds fill the comprehensional gaps by taking "bits and bytes" from all areas. Imagination and logic come into play as well, basically they work as the vehicle that carries those bits and bytes around all areas.
Sometimes people share the same experience and yet they have a different memory of it. This is why this happens.
Having less senses is like not being able to see something from all sides. Of course you get to learn the one you see, better.
The key is conversation. I would try to find a common ground using the other senses as a vocabulary and build a common language from there.

P.S. in the photo above, you can see Tony looking at my origami.


12 June 2016
Pride in what?

"Yes, ATHENS PRIDE! But PRIDE in what?
In our incapability of loving and staying by our partner even when the party is over and difficulties start rushing in?
PRIDE in what? In establishing intransigence and negotiation as part of our everyday travel order? In making romanticism and slowness look like notions from a last-century novel? In transforming abnegation from the most noble human quality into something unsubstantial and comic?
PRIDE in what? In making intellectual shallowness and sentimental apathy the only alphabet everyone understands? In watching unsustainable promises and big words exclude honesty and sincerity from a lover's menu? In realizing that noone is willing to give anything without taking something in advance?
PRIDE in what? In charging a smile and mutual respect by the minute?

ION doesn't fit here, either."

02 December 2015
A sign of the times

It has become quite hard to work in Greece anymore (as a part of a team it might be easier, I wouldn’t know, I am working solo).
Even very simple things, like going out with a camera in order to gather material for my compositions or for the pure pleasure of taking photos (street photography) are conditions persistently discouraged by the neighbours.
It is practically impossible to shoot photos in areas other than touristic or densely populated places without risking agressive behaviour and/or serious threats by some inhabitant, for whatever reason.
Most people face difficulties in their everyday lives and for some of us, who don’t belong to the maistream and establishment, things might even be a touch more difficult, but here we are talking about a direct intervention in the creative instinct and procedure!
A situation sad and annoying in equal doses.
I can understand that respectful appeareance, good manners and logic never had much value in Greece but now their opposites have become the norm rather than the exception and have done so in a sly and delinquent manner.

15 August 2013
A mini manifesto

A hug, a phone call, an unconditional smile, please improvise! For the downtrodden, the desperate, the lonely man it will be like moisture on his soul, a touch of peace on his eyes.
Pick someone (not just anyone) and do your act of kindness. It is proper for a day like this!
Whether you believe in God or in humans or in animals alone..
It is indifference and egocentricity that we find in abundance in our times, the human soul's "bad taste" in other words.
Definitely not compassion!

Season's greetings, ION

15 November 2012
"Greece's Real Crisis"

Between the fair and unfair consequences of this economic crisis (and I do say economic, as I find the ethical one arrived in this country ages ago) what I think irritates the majority of my fellow compatriots is the realisation that during the times when things seemed ok, in reality they weren't!
In a country with a history spanning many thousand of years, one would expect that notions like absence of social consiousness and immaturity (and the way these are expressed on an personal level) would be notions of the past. Resolved but not forgotten.
Yet the exact opposite occurs!
It suffices just to think that the last time Greece had a positive economic growth rate was in a time when democracy was not the country's official policy.
For God's sake. This is not a manifesto against democracy nor for its absence!
It is an exhortation for us as a country's citizens to learn to work seriously and effectively
for it, in such a way that this word engages the notion of fairness and that it in no way contains the notion of immunity, as it does (so very often) today.

There are times when I can only believe that the simple reason democracy was invented here was that basically anyone could thereby be in the position of having his "own business done". A true democratisation of corruption, in a way, and something that the now gone but not forgotten Malvina Karali would describe as a situation "too comic if not already too tragic"!
Sadly, while all this has become steadily evident to everyone having the chance to live here,
if you ask any Greek you meet you'll realise that, in reality, he doesn't want to know.
To him someone else is always to blame, an absence of self-critisism (which I am not going to name here), that makes any hope for a true solution look like "a dream on a summer night".
Simple. The only way to correct something is to start by admitting it is wrong.
A first step of utmost importance!

I am not going to write anymore.

Oh, and an plea. If you truly believe in the term "my country", then just put your personal interest in second place.
Trust me. This equates with intelligence in the long run. Certainly not with stupidity.
If you believe, and as many of you do.

08 October 2009
"L' Avventura" (The adventure)

I feel that I have a particular relationship with viruses (perhaps that was the main reason I wanted to specialize in a research branch of medical science).
How else could one explain that once every 10 years one of them (viruses, that is) “visits” me, stays here for a while and then leaves in the most heartless manner taking something precious away?
In a year where significant events happen at an almost frenetic pace, and with the loss of my dear friend and ingenious potter, Rena Stefanos (the 60 year old lady in the photo of the main page animation), I find myself one night (both realistically as metaphorically) in a hospital room with a window with a view of a skyscraper, counting the drops of 20yo Paul’s drip on the bed adjacent while waiting impatiently for the lights to go off.
The shock treatment for saving my hearing (victim of a rather rare virus) has begun and even though in the past I had repeatedly heard from some of my models or their parents how my portraits had proved prophetic for them, never could I have imagined that the one I had created of me (“The fuss”), would meet me again, four years later, in the bed of a hospital!
And it really is thanks to Paul you see, that I can smile carelessly like a child while playing.
A smile that goes on intact even now (four months later), each time I think of all the naughty little things we used to do (..after hours races in the hospital corridors on the wheel chairs, teasing shamelessly all the pretty nurses, the “illegal” “pizza deliveries” and being careful so that the guard didn’t see us) oh, it’s so nice to be a young boy again (even if “again”, in my case, could be left aside as well).
With my new permanent company in my pocket a couple of “Made in USA” earplugs, and the strong intention to rapidly move to a much more peaceful area of the capital, I find myself in Madrid (how much lovelier can a city be? People? A country from Spain?…I really don’t know) for the opening of my exhibition.
Alone, as my company can’t be here until the end of the week, I walk through the big streets to the parks and the labyrinthian narrow roads of  Chueca, stopping literally at every block of buildings for ‘one more’ decaffeinated coffee (it is so delicious and inexpensive!!) until the dusk arrives so I enter a bar for the most amazing Mojito!
And truly here, you need to have no company.
In a way I would only characterize it as a “chain reaction”, a guy I didn’t know before introduces me to another and he to the girl sitting next to him. The same girl to her girlfriend and she in her turn to someone new and while it sounds out of this world (it’s absolutely true, believe me), in one night only I end up visiting a number of places accompanied by a different partner each time, much like a surrealistic scene from an Almodovar movie sparkled with large quantities of a very charming and easygoing Spanish craziness which I seem to miss a lot, now that I am back in Athens.
However, since my writing led me to “important directors”, let me just borrow the title of a movie made by my most beloved one as the title for this very text.
And if due to all of the above (and much more) my artistic creativity has stayed a little behind in reality it hasn’t stayed behind at all, my mind is constantly working, I can assure you.
I thank you for your emails and to those who haven’t received a comment or an answer, “forgive me”.
I require some of your patience, I think my next work will reward you.
Till then..we stay in touch.

11 March 2009

The power of image and the absence of common sense

So much talking is going on about the necessity of “image” in our times (inherited from last century, or maybe not?) and I can’t help asking this very simple question: Is the necessity, the need for “image” a sign of a highly intelligent mind or maybe a sign of the exact opposite?
Why does image have such a big impact, both commercially and semiotical in people’s minds? And why so very often is it more substantial than substance?
Personally, I am a man who can safely claim that since reaching 22, the so called “image” has an incrementally decreasing importance in my mind to the point where it now almost has none (and I’ll avoid putting into my reflection the meaning of “prejudice” at the moment, I’ll just say that sometimes it feels easier to become Alexander the Great and conquer the world than to remove prejudice from a man’s mind).
I used the word “necessity” but in reality I could  well use the word “power”, as it is essentially that: a power some people are well aware of and a power which wouldn’t be if
we, slightly more often, were capable of using what  books and I together call, "common sense".
Here my initial question rises again. Is this a drawback of human kind or a virtue?
It is really worth thinking about since, if we look closer at  human civilization and the way it evolves we’ll find out that Man is capable of diametrically opposite valuations!
Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said that only superficial people wouldn’t judge someone or something (I’ll add, if you don’t mind) from outward appearance?
I can’t but agree. With a note. It is different “to see” than “to watch ”.
But what about me? I’d say, I’ve gone through long periods in my life intentionally doing my best keeping away any hint of an absence of common sense. “The marketing of life” as I sometimes enjoy calling it.
I rationalized it you see. I did it for myself. I did it for the few people I deal with. And I can proudly say that, as far as I am concerned, I have succeeded.
I find that to be one of my most important victories, and the prize you ask? A very unusual sense of freedom of thought, of existence itself in other words!
Once, during a wedding party held at a very central Athenian hotel (as if it matters where it was held..) an attendee (maybe memory fools me, but I think it was the groom) asked me this very simple question: “What has any future?”
I, naively replied: “The absence of common sense, of course”.
I can only hope one thing now that I reconsider.
That he did not misunderstand me!

06 December 2008
Autumn Interlude

A few days after the closing of my exhibition, and since I had finally decided not to accompany my father to that medical conference in Brazil (due to laziness), I find myself sitting in a side-street café in the centre, discussing human rights and values (which are often all but obvious) with Roger, drinking something hot and breathing air of dubious quality (what is happening to Athens and why doesn’t somebody do something about it?).
The loudspeaker plays a “great” (and let’s say, recent) hit of Mina, “You are my love” (which is of noteworthy importance since her career spans a period longer than my age!).
“Listen to the orchestral accompaniment. It’s the James Bond Theme, can’t you hear it? “, says Roger smiling and singing at the same time.
“Yes, and did you realize that that song is unknown to most Italians?” I added, looking around.
Listening to the music however triggers a series of other thoughts (as always happens). The loss of Mr Magomaev (coincidental with the finale of my exhibition, who would have
thought? ), he in his turn, then Ms Hannah Jones, who, before she had yet known life, with abundant certainty rejects it (in a manner, it is true, which causes me to unexpectedly shed a tear), one or two problems relating to my work on a new portrait and something else, which I don’t need to mention.
Time, of course, starts and finishes, comes and goes in my mind. And probably only there in the sense that what I live is what I am able to perceive. That what I perceive depends on what senses I have at my disposal, having, of course, a whole mind at my disposal (here I must stop due to dizziness). I don’t know exactly how to explain it, something elastic rather like an accordion. And so, without my fully realizing it, I find myself forty-eight hours later a student in a class having a German lesson. My first lesson! Are you amazed?
With a little bit of luck, of course, lots of studying and your good wishes, I will I hope in a short time (but as I said above, time is relative) have solved my problems with Der, Die, Das , prepositions and a whole pile of other things. I will also be proud of being able to communicate in five different languages (or is it six? Just a moment while I count).
You, in the meantime, and if you have the time, might take a look at the video of Mr Muslim Magοmaev singing the well – known French – American song “My Way”. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover someone very talented, right now.
Not that it has so much meaning any more.
For Mr Magomaev I mean.

16 December 2007
Copy n Paste Generation

I was with my friend Noel out on a social meeting the other day, along with a larger group of relatively unknown (or should I say, “relatively known”) people where everyone happened to be there only filling a gap in his and eventually in another person’s day plan.
We were sitting adjacent, drinking wine and listening to various conversations without any real interest.
I only get to see Noel twice a year (for reasons that escape me) and so whenever we meet, we have something new to discuss.
- “Have you noticed people don’t live for real, anymore?” he said.
I knew what he meant but I pretended I did not.
- “What are you talking about?”, I asked.
- “They don’t.” he replied.  “It’s like they only live a borrowed life, it’s not theirs and they… they are not themselves. This whole thing that surrounds you, it’s fake.”
Funny, I thought. Ok, this is obvious to me but it is also the second time I hear it in the last couple of weeks from two different people! Is this something trendy?
“Go on”, I replied putting aside in a gesture the sparkles from the champagne of the guy in front of me and the noise around us.
And Noel went on like a river (or is it “like a train”?)
- “Look how they are dressed, how they behave, the way they react. And, on the other hand, you have the endless hunt for the ideal other. The ideal, as it has been defined to us by the media, the cosmetics companies, the clothing industry…we no more look the other person in the eyes. His body weight, economical and social situation are far more important to us. So we’ve been told, so we have believed.”
He is so right, I thought. Look around. In our times being simply over weight  or not exquisitely pretty has become almost unethical!
- “So you’re talking about superficiality and predictability”, I replied.
- “That’s it”! “Predictability”! “That’s the keyword! We’ve become predictable. Therefore, easily manipulated. Our values and judgment criteria, all heavily manipulated. We, in fact have become, the “Copy and Paste Generation”!
I remained silent for a while drinking my wine and looking at the stars above through the transparent roof of his car.
-“Are you taking me home”, I asked?
-“Oh yes, in this cold you need not walk”.
“How did it go with the girl next-chair?”
“Not too well. Let’s put on some real music loud, shall we?
- “And then let’s make a Christmas wish. Did you make one?
- “Yes, I did.
- “What was it?”
- “I can’t tell you” (laughs)

01 July 2007
The deception of time and "Forever Young"

When I was young I used to observe a lot. Mostly people. For hours and hours, at a beach,
at an airport, or simply sitting on a balcony, I watched.
Time stood still for me as I enjoyed both the actual observation and the lightness of my existence with the certainty that I would live forever and that actually “forever” wouldn’t seem too long to me.
When later I started to live (“live” not “exist” if you know what I mean), this certainty was lost.
Forever? Yes, I’m afraid so. You see, we all take certain things for granted. And when I say certain things I only mean one, “time”.
I remember a phrase I must have heard in a song long ago, “I’ve seen the future and it will be”. Let me only add two more words to this: ”I’ve seen the future and it will be, for me” as I feel this reflects our perspective of life better.
But where does this certainty of “forever”, the idea of  timelessness, derive from?
And why is it much more pronounced in the younger generation?
Is it because they still have so much to know? What if they were faced with loss or misfortune earlier in their lives? Would that make their perception of time more complete or should I say more realistic?
Maybe it has a lot to do with religion. The more we live by its laws, the more we shall live. Funny, right? And how incorrect!
Now consider the idea you are on a bike (I don’t like bikes myself) or in a car driving
at high speed, and accelerating, and accelerating. Do you notice how the initial fear
of a possible lethal accident diminishes as your speed grows? I am sure there is a more scientific explanation for that but please try to observe the phenomenon with your pure instinct.
It’s a paradox, isn’t it? The faster you go, the higher the risk of a lethal impact, the less you fear! It is as if your body senses direct your mind to the point where you neglect the greatest of all fears (as long as we accept the fact there is more than one fear), the fear of death!
A suprising conclusion!
I could go on and on with endless questions (as I have so few answers) but I’ll try to sum it all up in the following: “Why do we all use logic so much in order to communicate with others and make ourselves understandable when our true dialogue with ourselves is hardly based on it?"
The more I think about it, the more I feel that the deception of time with its sweet, subtle and very clever paradoxical dimension we are all immersed in like sleep walkers, is in direct relation to death. Or maybe to our fear of it.
But hey! This is too much thinking for a young boy like me.
Tomorrow morning I shall order a cyan tshirt with the words “Forever Young”on it, in bold purple lettering. I must have it ready for my imminent holiday trip to Munich, you see.
It will make me forget about my hairloss problem and hopefully make some other person’s
day. :)
But shouldn’t it just say “Forever”, as I find “Young” to be included anyways?
Now, that is the question..

04 February 2007
"No man is an island"

We’re most certainly living in uncertain times. Rapid climate changes, technological achievements and significant scientific progress in all areas. A friend (who’s a dentist) told me babies nowadays have wisdom teeth no more! Evolution has taken it’s step forward...while I read on the news that the responsible gene for physical pain has been found thanks to a man who actually felt no pain (what a nightmare!) and who eventually died by falling from a great height.
But even so, nothing still amazes me as much as the news of all the dreadful things people actually do to other people! Torture and violence of unimaginable variety, killings and conspiracies for unthinkable reasons!
They are on the news every day. And yet we seem to surpass them with a shocking indifference, pretending they are not there...we really need not know.
Recently a thief in Thessaloniki, in order to grab the handbag of a girl, quite simply poured this highly toxic acid all over her face! It reminded me of a similar event that took place in the UK some time ago. See? People are the same everywhere (and they’ll express their similarity once the social coordinates match).
A certain young lady in the UK was on the t.v. (with her face disfigured) saying how sorry she felt for the actual assailant and what a sad man he must be in order to do such a thing. A person with true class!
Signs of the times? It’s the inevitable consequence of our technological age? The price of a highly hypocritical society (cliché’ but it’s true) that becomes numb and materialistic at a terrifying pace? Is it both?
When I was younger I was obsessed with the idea of losing trace of the obvious. This daily feeling of growing anxiety that something of vital importance was happening, something that had been created by people and returned to people (much like a boomerang) and yet, even if so obvious, still managed to escape me.
I now have the same feeling! My defense? Could it be indifference? But even if so, indifferent I simply can’t be!
Forgive my not so comfortable (for any reader) discourse. I promise I’ll soon return to reflections of a more relaxed nature.
Till then, please try to visualize: the tranquilizing serenity that follows a tempest, the silent beauty of an imminent dawn, the sound of it! The hopeful promise of an unconditional smile! The foam of the waves at your feet on a summer night! The hypnotic rattling of the leaves and the familiar whistling of the wind, the blossoming rose and a visiting bee; a reassuring memory! Your lover’s salt on the skin caressed by the sun! The warmth of a familiar touch! Your mother’s touch! The lack of it! To say “hello” and then... “goodbye”! To have a vision to achieve! To be kind! To love and share!
It all derives from a man and, to a man it returns, as long as he exists.
As no man is an island.

08 August 2006
The ideal other

I really wanted this article to be called “Good Karma” (for personal reasons) but my fear that it could be mistaken for the algorithmic ingenious software for musical accompaniment of a favourite electronic instrument (imagine this!), has made me drop the choice.
Therefore, I’ll talk about “the ideal other”.
And in doing so I’ll get straight to the point, quite as much as the Queen of England does when she is serious (or so I’ve been told), and start by a saying that the ideal other, simply does not exist. I know this for a fact, since I have found him.
Oh, please do forgive my silly game with words (my other preferable one being ‘sudoku’ lately), but whoever thinks that the ideal other exists needs time to grow up.
Human relationships get built, require effort, and are far more than a game, even if, so carelessly, many people seem to disagree.
I have a very precise view on the matter and I also know the cause of the mess.
Endless rivers of tears, helpless lonely hours, choices of life, lives, would acquire another dynamic if the bedtime stories we have been listening to or reading were a bit more…how can I put it…more 'real life' stories.
The suggestion of ‘forever’ lurking in this: "and they lived happily ever after…”, really has had, and still has (and most certainly will have) a very high price for humankind when, ever so cruelly, it will have to face reality.
And what is reality you may ask?
Well, actually, it is two things; ‘forever’ simply is not an option and we hardly ever know what we really need until it’s too late (some luckier ones, who face real dramas in advance, get to know their needs much sooner).
But on the other hand, it could also be that we humans find a certain kind of pleasure in difficulties. Therefore, we create them so often and for no valid reason!
And then, we always end up wanting what we don’t have, don’t you think?
I have one word to describe this fatal disease. Immaturity!
I am soon going to end this article and go straight to the cd player.
I’ll put on a wonderful Mexican song* - the Mina version- and sing along (a special dedication to my ‘ideal other’, you see).
I have this feeling that mr. Manzanero used to like bedtime stories a lot!
But then again, who doesn’t?

 * ”somos novios” (we are fiancés) / “it’s impossible”, (Armando Manzanero, composer)

21 July 2005

"we used to go on walking, hand in hand
you told me all the big things you had planned,
it wasn't long, till all your dreams came true
success, put me in second place with you..."

You remember that old american song with the same name?
I can clearly hear lots of voices in unison declaring: "Nooo!..."
Oh well, I'd be surprised if you did.
But what is success? (to be honest my automated answer would be, "honey")
Is it lots of money and power, or is it lots of fame? Or is it both?
What now, if I asked each one of you for a quick definition.
Would anyone come up with a different answer?
I seriously doubt it. And how many rich and famous do you know who are happy
because of their money and their fame?
My approach will inevitably be different.
I can only think of one word closest to success and that is, "happiness".
I know many rich people with ruined families and no happiness at all.
And some powerful ones who are only to be loved because of that.Their power.
None of them is happy. Therefore, noone is succesful. Disagree?
And what if you were a singer trying to reach that higher note or maybe an athlete
working hard to overcome your physical and psycological limits.
What then, would "success" be for you?
I know some of you will feel more succesful with an expensive car. Ok, I understand
for many it is the easiest, or one of the few ways to grab attention. But please do keep in mind where you park it. I've seen a pretty boy once on a wheel chair, trying hopelessly to access his way to the pavement closed by a, not so pretty, blue Mercedes. Pity..
Let me now describe to you another true incident and, with that, I shall close.
I was at a small seaside village, somewhere in Greece. It was summertime (just like now) and I was sitting at a cafe', waiting for someone to arrive.
The village was so small, it would only take you 10 minutes to walk through it and
maybe 20' for a quick tour. But, it was beautiful.
There were some tourists walking by and a middle aged man was sitting at the table
right next to me speaking to a man and a woman, also of his age.
I was rather bored of waiting and the heat made me sleepy so I decided I would follow
the conversation they had.
(well, he was speaking in such a loud voice I would follow it, even if I didn't want to)
He kept telling them about the houses he had built and the money he had made.
He confessed that all of his kids had expensive cars and a country house so that they would
"feel good and have a high ego".
He told them all about the big things he had planned, and how his dreams had
come true. (exactly like the song!)
The man and the woman listened carefully. He was speaking to them in a friendly
manner as if they were childhood friends who had met again after a long time.
No jealousy whatsoever involved.
The time passed and he was starting to acquire a strange face. He kept on looking
at his watch and yawning: "where the hell is my wife..."
They were obviously visiting the village together and although she should have been
back by now, she was nowhere to be found.
The more the time went by, the more he was becoming furious. Not exactly worried,
he was rather angry, but in a "this has happenned before" kind of way.
My appointment just arrived and I had to go (hopefully). A perfect sandy beach was
waiting for us and I was all relieved!
We walked to the car and 5 minutes later we passed outside the cafe' I had been
sitting at before.
The man was there at the table, alone. He was looking around for his wife and then
again at his watch. He was angry and unhappy.
I looked for the not so "successful" couple (actually, they looked rather poor) that
had been keeping him company all along.
Right next to the cafe' there was a small road going up to the village.
I saw them on that road.
They were together,
happy and
hand in hand...