“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: We are all in the same boat.”
Gazing at the 16 large-format images of Yiorgis Yerolymbos’ latest exhibition at Skoufa Gallery in central Athens brought to mind this quote by the late French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The pictures are like gateways to our shared marine kingdom and feature sharp horizontal lines separating sea from sky – an archetypical dichotomy for all men.
The title of the exhibition is “Mare Liberum.” The term is associated with Hugo Grotius, who was the first to formulate the principle that beyond a certain distance from the coast, the sea is international territory and all nations are free to use it for seafaring trade.
A keen skipper, Yerolymbos has long been drawn to the sea. In recent years, however, the photographer and architect has remained far from it, mostly shooting nighttime cityscapes outside Greece. For a while it felt as though he had turned his back on that part of himself that craves the open horizon. It is no coincidence that the oldest picture in the Skoufa exhibition was shot on the island of Kythera in 2000. His archive of sea images has gradually grown and some have been displayed in shows at home and abroad (Venice, Nice, Beijing). However, it is the first time that they are being presented as a collection. They nevertheless carry evident family resemblances and, at the same time, reflect a profound need to cast his gaze beyond the banal and the everyday.
“After many years, I felt it was time that they be presented as corpus in the same space,” Gerolymbos told Kathimerini in reference to the photographs. “They express my own effort to achieve personal freedom.”
The exhibition at Skoufa Gallery (4 Skoufa, Athens, tel 210.364.3025, www.skoufagallery.gr) runs through October 12.