LIFE & STYLE
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