CULTURE

Ancient beauty revisited

Growing up in a rural US province away from the big American cities – where residents have broad access to museums and cultural events – Joshua Garrick’s inexplicable passion for all things Greek seemed as far-fetched as a “Star Wars” adventure.

Nevertheless, as soon as he graduated from New York City’s Columbia University with a postgraduate degree in fine arts, Garrick treated himself to a much-desired trip to Greece.

The photographer’s travel choice is explained in his foreword to the catalog accompanying “Seeking the Ancient Kallos,” an exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens until January 8, 2014.

Without formality, Garrick’s introduction to the show displays true emotion and his own personal experiences. This is the account of a man with a deep love for Greece, the country’s clear blue skies and the accomplishments of its people.

“Seeking the Ancient Kallos“ features 95 black-and-white photographs of ancient Greek sculptures by Garrick, who is a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The majority of the works photographed are part of the Athens museum’s permanent collection. Through the use of an innovative technique, the images are printed on aluminum and give the impression of being engraved and three-dimensional. Only three machines around the world feature this kind of state-of-the-art technology – one is located in the US and is used primarily in Hollywood film productions.

The result is nothing short of impressive. Garrick’s images allow for extraordinary clarity when observing the ancient “models,” which in turn seem to come alive. This conversation between the present and the past shows passion and rhythm and is a tribute to the timelessness of the masterpieces, which not only appear to defy age and time, but continue to surprise those who observe them.

“The exhibition has both an aesthetic and a symbolic value,” said exhibition curator Iris Kritikou. “In the last 40 years this man has been visiting the country and taking photographs of Greek antiquities. He loves Plato and Aristotle. He wants to urge visitors to take their time and focus on invisible details – a finger, a beautiful back – but above all, he wants to talk about love, old age, death and conceit – everything that has been written by the Greek philosophers he admires and studies.”

For Garrick, the sculptures are the spitting images of people who once lived and walked on the streets of Kerameikos and Plaka in central Athens, the same streets where he has led guided tours for hundreds of visitors to Greece.

Besides the show’s visual value, the most important factor of the exhibition is the American photographer’s passion for Greek art and philosophy and his efforts to share this passion with his students and, as of late, with art lovers.

Following Athens, the exhibition is scheduled to travel to the Sismanoglio Megaro in Istanbul and the Greek Consulate General in New York.

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National Archaeological Museum, 1 Tositsa, tel 210.821.7724. Open Mondays from 1 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays and public holidays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, go to www.namuseum.gr.