Photos of an inner light

Born in 1910 in Anakasia, on the outskirts of Volos, Dimitris Letsios rolled back the surface of his homeland to reveal its inner light. Soil, rain and stardust are the stuff of his black-and-white images. His photographs, among the finest of Greek 20th century photography, are the subject of new album published by the Thessaloniki Photography Museum and which accompanies an exhibition there which will run till the end of October. Letsios’s prewar photographs were lost in the great earthquake that struck Volos in 1955, when the photographer was entering the golden phase of his career. From 1955 to the mid-1970s, Letsios and his companion, Nana Tzimerou, traveled not only in Magnesia and the Sporades but also in many other parts of Greece. Letsios had wide interests, which he often approached from a human-centered viewpoint. At times his photographs of the Thessaly Plain conjure up parts of southern Italy, the Soviet hinterland or Balkan backwaters. Faces are wrinkled and, when they are calm, the sun plays upon them, causing lines. The gazes are sharp, decisive. Hands – calloused or smooth – are clasped. And when the body bends, exhausted, or pauses to reflect, Letsios’s lens approaches discreetly. There is a strong sense of waiting, of anticipation and hope in nearly all his photographs.

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