CULTURE

Photography exhibition captures still mood of autumn melancholy

Just as the languid summer is growing distant and the melancholy of the fall is slowly approaching, a group photography exhibition at the Eleni Koroneou Gallery in central Athens captures this sense of time suspended through images that are as much about loss and fragility as about hope and renewal. The work of eight artists, each working in a different mode, are presented together in an exhibition that has both ambience and style. Strangely moving, this show leaves the viewer in a thoughtful, if not wistful, mood. Even those pictures which show life’s darker side have an undercurrent of tenderness about them, a compassion for the human state and an acknowledgement of human vulnerability. Larry Clark’s pictures of adolescents on the margins of society, for example, gives provocative, even shocking, images an oddly affectionate glance. The American artist renowned for his photo-essays «Tulsa» and «Teenage Lust,» both steeped in the taboo-breaking ethos of the late 1960s, photographs young people who are often naked, smoking pot or in the company of one another in black-and-white images that have both the immediate and private quality of a visual diary. Clark affords the viewer an almost voyeuristic look into young people’s often perilous acts as they come to terms with reality, their disillusionment, self-deceptions and ultimately, their loneliness. Like Larry Clark’s images, most of the photos on display allude to a solitary existence and turn the most ordinary, everyday situations into moments of introspection and stillness. Even though there is nothing much going on in them, these images have psychological intensity and the power of suggestion, leaving meaning ambiguous or inconclusive. Christina Dimitriadi’s self-portrait, for example, is an intense, stark image of a woman sitting on what looks like a bed. Her gaze is frontal but what she is looking at is not clear. Is it a third person, a mirror or the viewer that she is staring at? Is she looking into herself or outward? Whatever the case, the image has a wonderful stillness about it as well as an almost Doric-like, imposing quality, partly brought out by its large format. Part of Dimitriadi’s «Living Together» series, the image is typical of the artist’s interest in recording private, domestic space and building something like a visual diary of self. This diary-like quality is also echoed in Alexandros Georgiou’s picture showing a skyline of New Jersey as taken from the interior of an apartment, which breathes a sense of a solitary man’s view of the world, taken from the insularity of his home. A sense of loneliness is also exuded by the pictures of adolescent girls photographed alone in their rooms or their gardens by artist Sarah Jones. The familiarity of a domestic environment is transformed into something artificial, even ominous, and an adolescent’s home becomes an extension of her inner world and domestic malaise. Jack Pierson’s photos taken from Positano in Southern Italy in 1996 look like fragments from a dream, with their blurry focus and slightly artificial coloring (Pierson uses color like a painter) enhancing their unreal quality and fleeting atmosphere. Sensual and melancholy in a sweet kind of way, Pierson gives away only one part of what one imagines to be a broader picture and lures the viewer to fantasize the rest. Stories that are either only half-told or tell a half-finished tale: This is what the pair of portraits of a man and a woman by Ion Constas feels like. His work is inspired by the story of the love of Louis XIV for Louise de la Valliere. Though on a completely different note, far from romantic, Lina Bertucci’s Far West-like image of a couple also shares a sense of mystery. This is an exhibition that allows viewers to complete the picture and to use their imagination. Axel Hutte’s huge, breathtaking, misty vista of soaring skies above a forest, although unlike the other pictures in terms of subject-matter, does in a way capture the exhibition’s prevalent mood in its stifled lyricism, lulling and slightly melancholic effect. 5-7 Mitsaion, tel 210.924.4271, to September 17.