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Paint­ing In Light: Ste­fanos Me­taxas

Rubn­bindg his eyes and draw­ing a hand across his dark­en­ing five ‘o’ clock shadow, Greek artist and cur­rent Big Ap­ple res­i­dent Ste­fanos Me­taxas, 25, whose work graced the walls of Hangzhou’s el­e­gant San­lang Art Di­men­sion (山朗艺术空间167 Fenghuang­shan­jiao Rd., Shangcheng District, Hangzhou杭州市上城区凤凰山脚路167号 Of­fi­cial WeChat ac­count: SLAD_167) last month, is start­ing to feel the pinch of the inevitable bout of jet-lag that comes with any globe-trot­ting jour­ney. “Ac­taully”, he says, wryly, “jet­lag does have its ad­van­tages you know”, be­fore going on to ex­plain how find­ing your­self wide awake at 4:30am can lead to some great, un­ex­pected street-life vi­gnettes.

In the Mid­dle King­dom for a whistlestop tour of only 9 days, you can see that the young pho­tog­ra­pher is en­thralled by China’s bustling, un­usual street life, and one can only imag­ine how dif­fer­ent Hangzhou’s streets and av­enues must be com­pared to the sleepy path­ways of the Greek is­land on which he was raised. Born in 1990 on the idyllic Greek is­land of Paros, Ste­fanos’ love of pho­tog­ra­phy was nur­tured from an early age, some­thing that he puts down to the melan­cholic, de­serted Paros win­ters that often lead to bouts of in­tro­spec­tion to those with an artis­tic dis­po­si­tion. Yearn­ing to see more of the world as he came of age as, in­deed, many sons of sleepy fish­ing vil­lages or is­lands do - Ste­fanos spent 4 in­spi­ra­tional years in Philadel­phia, where he en­rolled at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, be­fore later mov­ing to New York City, his cur­rent base and end­lessly chal­leng­ing muse.

The works on dis­play in Hangzhou works that formed part of the lager “The Op­po­site of The World” ex­hi­bi­tion, which pooled to­gether a num­ber of works from emerg­ing for­eign pho­tog­ra­phers - could be broadly split into two sec­tions: street pho­tog­ra­phy and still life. Although a fan of both styles, it seems that Ste­fanos re­ally comes alive when dis­cussing his still life works, the process of which he says is akin to “paint­ing with the light”. “Still life pho­tog­ra­phy is a tac­tile sen­sa­tion,” says the Greek in his heavy Amer­i­can ac­cent “as your hands are touch­ing the pho­to­graph be­fore you take it”.

The two still life works on dis­play in San­lang Art Di­men­sion show­cased Ste­fanos love for the medium, with the clean and el­e­gant “Penn and Mo­randi De­cided to Tango” high­light­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher’s at­ten­tion to de­tail, his love of light and his fond­ness for pho­to­graphic “in­ter­play with neg­a­tive space”, and “Kolim­bithres”, a stark, coloured piece named after a fa­mous Paros beach, show­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher’s so­cial com­men­tary side per­haps, as

Still life pho­tog­ra­phy is a tac­tile sen­sa­tion,” says the Greek in his heavy Amer­i­can ac­cent “as your hands are touch­ing the pho­to­graph be­fore you take it."

the smashed bot­tle seems to sug­gest the de­bris left on the beach dur­ing the is­land’s peak sea­son. “Both pieces are ex­per­i­ments in shadow and light” says Ste­fanos.

The other two works on dis­play can be clas­si­fied as street pho­tog­ra­phy, although one of the shots, “Bar­bary”, is ac­tu­ally a loud and dra­matic pho­to­graph of a boat pulling out of one of Paros’ bays as part of an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion held on the is­land. “Peo­ple dress like pi­rates and ar­rive on boats to 'kid­nap' the women”, says Ste­fanos, “it’s a fun tra­di­tion but quite in­tense”. The pic­ture’s red flares at­test to this in­ten­sity. Round­ing off the mini-col­lec­tion is “Brook­lyn”, a shot that saw Ste­fanos stak­ing out the lo­ca­tion for hours in or­der to get the right image. It’s not al­ways easy be­ing a pho­tog­ra­pher, I guess, and some­times you have to re­ally wait for the right moment to press the shut­ter.

With ex­hi­bi­tions in Bos­ton, Philadel­phia and now Hangzhou un­der his belt, Ste­fanos is keen to get his work hang­ing in gal­leries as much as he can in the fu­ture as, un­like hav­ing your works show­cased on­line - which can lead to said works be­com­ing dis­pos­able, due to the speed and fre­quency that peo­ple con­sume images on­line - “ex­hibit­ing causes you to stop, think and look”, which is re­ally all a young pho­tog­ra­pher can ask for from his au­di­ence.

“Brook­lyn” by Se­fanos Me­taxas

“Bar­bary” by Ste­fanos Me­taxas

To see Ste­fanos' ex­clu­sive pho­toes­say on his time in China, turn to our Al­ter­nate Vi­sions col­umn on page 72

“Penn and Mo­randi De­cided to Tango” by Ste­fanos Me­taxas

"Kolim­bithres" by Ste­fanos Me­taxas

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