Words by Eleni Papaioannou
His work stands out as a bold, powerful narrative carrying a hidden sensitivity that evolves into an in-depth story, unfolding in front of you like a masterful painting. One of the best photographers around and the publisher of NOMAS magazine talks to us about poetry, coincidence, chasing the light and embracing the crisis as a great kickstarter for big things.
Tell us a few words about the magazine. Out of what need was it created, what has it offered you?
NOMAS is a child of the crisis. The economic turmoil brought the collapse of magazines in Greece, together with the shrinking in advertising, that created a big stranglehold on us, the professionals working in the field. It was a dead end, but I do not believe in dead ends. We make our own path and we follow it. If the road leads to a dead end, you either knock it down or you turn and you take another direction. NOMAS was created out of the need to continue to dream. It offered me the road, the travel, getting to know new people, making new friends.
How do you see the creative landscape evolving in Greece today?
Everything in Greece happens slowly. Paradoxically, the crisis contributed to some things evolving and getting on with, faster. It somehow forced us to be more specific and more creative. It made us chase what we long for more passionately, and fight for it. Young artists have moved to Athens from abroad. Major exhibitions are taking place, such as «Flying over the Abyss» at NEON, «Documenta» that takes place in April etc. The National Museum of Contemporary Art has reopened, and even though it is still not operating in full force, this move is very promising. It is also nice to see young entrepreneurs spreading their wings abroad and succeeding, such as Ancient Greek Sandals, Zeus & Dione etc.
Favourite work of art?
I honestly cannot think of just one. If it were a sculpture it would be by Giacometti, or it could be a painting by Caravaggio. Or maybe by Hopper. If it were a movie, I would choose Antonioni and Tommy Lee Jones.
Incidentally, I recently saw the movie LA LA LAND and I loved it.
Favorite image- photographer?
All the portraits made by John Deakin.
What rituals do you follow in your work?
I don’t have any. But the one thing I need is that noone talks to me. I focus so much that I become a misanthrope. You cannot create otherwise. You have to be undisturbed.
What form of art you consider the most overrated?
The arts are very well standing. I would use the word «overvalued» only to describe some trends and currents in art. Also, some experts’ opinions as to what is art and what is not. If I am allowed to say, the most undervalued art in Greece is poetry. For me, poetry is one of the most important forms of art.
Favorite subject to photograph?
I used to love going out at night with my camera and taking pictures of random subjects and landscapes. Now, I unfortunately have no time to do that. I dream of a long journey that will last six months and will allow me to photograph whatever and whenever I want. At the pace that I desire.
Favorite one of your photos?
I always liked pictures which are charged with emotion. The first images that come to mind are a series of photos I took of my wife and my son, when Nicholas was about two and a half years old. They were published in COOL magazine by the then creative director John Karlopoulos, who is currently the creative director for NOMAS. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and this is reflected in the lens. I would choose one of those images.
What talent do you admire?
I admire beautiful voices. Also I admire and envy excellent painters.
Figuratively speaking, who has been your teacher?
My greatest teacher is art itself.
The writer Ian Rankin
What or who would you like to have photographed?
Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and David Bowie.
How does one catch the moment? Do you wait or look out for it?
Both. You’re lucky if you “get” the moment and unlucky if you are not ready when it comes to you. So you have to hunt it down or, as it quite often happens, to create it.
On the street or in your social life, what usually attracts your attention, as a photographer?
Usually, my eye gets stuck in trivial things or everyday human gestures. But light is always the key. I have spent my whole life chasing it.
Biggest surprise brought upon you by your own image?
Nice question. Usually I leave the house with an idea / image stuck in my head. In the course of the day, this picture is often reversed. Coincidence, in my work, always reserves the best surprises.
How do you cultivate your aesthetic? Do you see exhibitions, films, look for things on the internet?
I do all of the above to fill my mind with knowledge, images and information. Aesthetic is automatically fed by this type of roaming around.
What are are you most proud of?
On a personal level, my son. In an artistic level, the two solo shows I’ve done, the first one at The Athens Festival and the second one at the Galleria Pack in Milan. On a professional level, although it is still at a young age, for NOMAS.