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I am often told that my pictures present a narrative quality, maybe because every "reader" through my works "reads" their own stories. The same thing happens with this project entitled "Liberation." Although I was creating it for the needs of the group exhibition: "Ex-Staseis - Attempts at the Representation of Liberty," it was finally connected with a dear friend of mine, Eleftheria Michailidis, who was, quite unintentionally, my source of inspiration.

Eleftheria has been for many years one of the best makeup artists working in television, theater, and cinema. She was a warm and emotional young woman, honest, spontaneous, creative, and an expert in her field. Apart from being a friend, she was also my partner in my photography projects, and my collaboration with her gave me two of my most beautiful images ...

I first met her at the opening of one of my solo exhibitions back in 2011, and since then, we became friends quickly as if we had known each other for a long time. She always liked my work; she was moved by it, perhaps because she read her personal experiences through my imagery… We were never best buddies; we would spend months without talking to each other on the phone or meeting up close. But we loved each other.

So the story begins about 5 years ago with a phone call from Eleftheria one afternoon outside the Kallimarmaro Stadium. "My Dimosthenis, the doctors found a tumor in my brain that needs to be operated on immediately" ... I froze…

How was that even possible? I thought to myself. Eleftheria had always given me the impression of a robust constitution. How did she crack..??? "I want to urge you, she went on, to live each day as fully as you can because life is too short." And now that I'm writing this, it's hard not to get emotional. I don't remember anything else from that phone call. Only her words and my overwhelming feelings. In the months that followed, Eleftheria underwent surgery at the best neurosurgery clinic, INI, Hanover, Germany. What a brave girl she was... She traveled, got operated on, returning back home optimistic and determined to win her war, as she usually did in her life.

We arranged to spend some time together on a warm afternoon in the roof garden of a central hotel to celebrate the good news with some cool wine and refreshed mood. When I saw her, I couldn't believe my eyes. She had lost weight beautifully, she had changed her hairdo, she was elegantly dressed, a total charm! We had our most meaningful conversation that evening, and in the clinking of our glasses, I was silently wishing that her illness would go away for good and never come back. In one of my visits to hers, she told me that she was continuing the chemotherapy to eliminate the last remnants of the tumor. We also arranged a photo shoot at my studio. She wanted to be photographed with the new hairstyle that suited her so well. Two years later, she came over for dinner. I remember feeling that something wasn't quite right about my friend. As if something of her spirited personality had been lost forever. I started to worry again.

My fears were unfortunately confirmed when we spoke on the phone a few months later. I couldn't recognize her voice; it sounded drained, hoarse, and weak. Metastasis ..?

She did not mention such a thing to me. Maybe they hid it from her, or maybe deep down, she already knew it. She told me that she was exhausted and wanted to leave her body that betrayed her twice, and I couldn't bear it and burst into tears. Instead of giving her courage, I dissolved in front of her. "I love you very much, my Eleftheria," I told her at the end with my voice trembling. "I love you too, my friend," and we hung up tenderly, lovingly, and fearfully.

It was becoming more and more difficult for me to communicate with her. I could not stand it. She had moved to her summer house in Loutraki, where her parents took care of her. I could not even visit her because of the pandemic. However, she kept herself busy crafting precious small items like port cleats, clothes hangers, and pencil cases she sold online for over a year. She didn't let her illness put her down. In a conversation of ours on Viber, we talked a lot. At one point, I showed her my artwork and dedicated it to her, saying that I had been keeping her in my mind and heart while I was making it. "I've always been true to your art," she replied. And right, then, somehow, I realized that her health had deteriorated. I wanted to buy some of her creations. "Take your pick, and if something is already sold, I will remake it for you as soon as I get out of bed." She was confined to bed by two broken vertebrae...

A few weeks later, Eleftheria passed away on Palm Sunday, leaving behind a huge gap in her family and all of us, her friends, who loved her.

Every time I see the Liberation artwork, I remember her even more vividly since not a day goes by without bringing her to my mind. I miss you dearly Eleftheria. I hope we meet again someday and continue our chat from where we left off.

I love you!







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Updated: Aug 13, 2021

My works: "A Time for Reflection" and "The Longest Walk" were lucky enough to be exhibited last May at the North Dakota Museum of Art in the context of their experimental exhibition: "Art in Isolation," along with the works of many other artists from all over the world. I can only feel gratitude. Although the first work is rather self-explanatory, the second one is not. Some friends asked me to reveal its meaning. However, the interpretation of an artwork is always a subjective and personal matter.

To me, "The Longest Walk" could be the distance we need to take to discern our personal views on ourselves, other people, the society, the Cosmos itself, and the myriad of attributes we have acquired in our lifespan.

I dedicate both works to a beloved relative of mine who passed away in the quarantine days. I thank him dearly for the inspiration.



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Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Seeking inspiration for a new project in these imposed inert days of the pandemic, Ι went back to an old, mental image of mine. It was the time when, due to a severe family problem, I had returned unexpectedly from abroad where I was studying (in 1988) and was looking for relief through the path of photography I was discovering. That was when I came in contact with meditation. I used to practice late at night, isolated in my room, listening to relaxing music on my Walkman. For practical reasons, I used to transfer my vinyl albums to audio tapes (the mp3 wasn’t invented yet). An album, which in time turned out to be one of my favorites, was titled: “Film Music for Relaxation and Meditation - Vol.2” by Milan Records. It was a beautiful collection of French movie soundtracks from the ’60s and the ’80s. Each tune was a real gem. Listening to that music helped me a lot to concentrate and quickly get into a state of deep calm. In particular, I would like to refer to Frédéric Devreese’s piano piece: “Soundtrack, Vol. 2: Prelude”, performed by Andre de Groote. Every time I listened to that melancholic melody, I imagined myself standing alone on a lunar rock, gazing from above, in absolute silence, at the majestic silver wilderness of our satellite and our shockingly vibrant, blue habitat. That vision brought me closer to my inner peace. Since then, I have always had in mind to illustrate and share it one day. That day turned out to be today. Since the Covid-19 restrictive measures kept me indoors, I searched for photographic material through the royalty-free platform of Unsplash. I found and downloaded 4 images for free, all suitable for my project, and got down to business. It took me about 3 days to publish my artwork. I usually give my projects 2-3 days to sink in before I am sure they are completed. Through my many years of apprenticeship in photography and digital image editing, practices I teach and apply in my own art as well, those 4 images blended into this one:


Art saved me in that difficult period of my life and continues to rescue me until now. I don’t know how or if I would have made it without Her, and for that reason, I shall be eternally grateful. Finally, it would be interesting to share with you the material that helped me complete the whole idea, starting with the Devreese’s prelude that you can enjoy here:

https://open.spotify.com/track/6iqjopCBdqu8ebFn6mA2R2?si=gNcf5UshTBWbxKpTjmZ3yA


Here are the vinyl and royalty-free photos with the photographers’ credits. I warmly thank them.


P.S.

Whoever is interested in listening to the rest of the tracks of that 32 years old album since its release, I quote the links I managed to find through the Spotify platform:

Fort Saganne - Générique (Philippe Sarde)

https://open.spotify.com/track/3TClruzTXr4sBMej6u4ljX?si=zvwp_6zkTNSF08_06w7eNQ


La Pirate - Alma Est Partie (Philippe Sarde)

https://open.spotify.com/track/5ZROqhsuqnlVb2ZaUV1pxJ?si=F5Hmyq_ZTHmPXRZaFh6PNA


Le Mépris - Générique (Georges Delerue)

https://open.spotify.com/track/5Px2F7giZdnZdLkqj7e7KU?si=LkfTfY6lSMWY1wt_mBbAaw


Le Mépris - Thème de Camille (Georges Delerue)

https://open.spotify.com/track/7iHNPpvbWqMmamrCqMXFGJ?si=VgN6FSUfQ-qiDViKtQouqQ


Le Mépris - Adagio (Georges Delerue)

https://open.spotify.com/track/3NtBQvjPDBcvhNB2hnSkeX?si=Q8LkiDRTSrS0bwvx46-WGA


Benvenuta - Habanera (Frédéric Devreese)

https://open.spotify.com/track/0f8okApllTMZWgRYsDo3Mn?si=chu3klOUQdKZgWRYoasrsA


Jean de Florette - Générique (Jean-Claude Petit)

https://open.spotify.com/track/1L3aeqgHDwiVzvTuhieqgJ?si=D0j-t961S0yf9G9_eChWtA

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