‘CHROMES’ by Nicolas Karakatsanis05/11/13
American cineastes may already know Nicolas Karakatsanis through his work as DoP on films such as Bullhead, but now the wider public will get a chance to discover his own photography too as he prepares for his first US solo exhibition, ‘CHROMES’. Originally planned to take place in Antwerp, in his native Belgium, the show has been taken under the wings of Ingrid Deuss and will now open in New York’s VII Gallery
For his debut US show you might expect Karakatsanis to introduce himself with work from one of his previous exhibitions, 2012’s acclaimed Adjusting Infinity for example, but doing the obvious hasn’t propelled Karakatsanis to the level he is at the still relatively tender age of 36.
Throughout his career Karakatsanis has done things his way, like saying yes to working on the horror feature debut of his friend Jonas Govaerts whilst spurning Michael Mann’s invitation to Hollywood. Or, now again, by changing his way of working for this exhibition rather than relying on the pictures and techniques that he has won acclaim for in Europe.
For Karakatsanis challenging himself, never taking the easy route has become a creative way of keeping weariness at bay.
“I don’t drink alcohol”, says Karakatsanis. “After a day on the set, I don’t go out. I take photographs, I work on them. I mess around on the internet.”
In 2008 that messing around led to the creation of a blog, The Skeleton Herald, a place where Karakatsanis could preserve what he was doing for himself, and where his friends could join in and look at the things he came across in the world. No story, no criteria, no justification, just an open mind, emotion and his own sense of aesthetics.
“As cameraman I have to justify every shot, with my photographs there is no need to do that. I am not a war reporter registering chopped off legs.
For me a crack in the wall can be just what I want to see and say.”
For Karakatsanis photography is strictly personal: his vision projected onto his surroundings, focusing on the little things that nine out of ten people wouldn’t notice,then capturing it in a way that is utterly unique. And what is it that he encounters everywhere, without consciously looking for? Solitude.
But that’s all he wants to say about it. Like Dirk Braeckman whose own photographs are catalogued by just a number, not a title,
or paintings that just reveal the artist’s name and date, Karakatsanis knows that too much explanation can kill a creation.
No, Karakatsanis is not a painter, he freely admits he doesn’t have the talent, much less the patience. Photography is the art of the impulsive.
A glance, a flash, a naive directness that he also appreciates in other artists, the musician friends whose records he helps to produce.
Film directors who know that nobody looks through a lens the way Karakatsanis does.
‘The Master of Darkness’, a colleague once called him. Karakatsanis laughs at the title. “
Before that I was the Prince of Darkness, because I was the youngest one in the crew, wherever I went and worked.
But I’m no longer the underdog, unfortunately.”
So the prince has become a master, with ‘Adjusting Infinity’ Karakatsanis proved this with his skill in maximizing his self imposed inky palette, but now color has begun to seep back into his work as his new exhibition ‘CHROMES’ shows. For the first time Karakatsanis worked in an actual studio.
Directing his models, posing them in the manner of artists he’d studied such as Velázquez and Manet. No costumes, no props just a pureness of form and emotion.
Like Rick Rubin searching for the essence of Johnny Cash, stripping everything back until just the man himself was left.
The link with painting is also a technical one. Karakatsanis’ work displays a certain out-of-focus quality, a haze that echoes the work of his favorite artists.
“A painted picture can never be completely clear. Even photorealism retains its texture. My photos get a similar satiny varnish. They have to shine without reflecting,” he explains.
So purity but with a coating, the essence of Karakatsanis’ work.
Individual creativity that stands tall in a world of productions and meetings, naivety protected by a layer of professional cynicism.
Nicolas Karakatsanis, Director of Photography and photographer.
Copyright “[Nicolas Karakatsanis&IngridDeussGallery]“
VERNISSAGE: Thursday the 7th of November from 7 pm until 10pm
EXHIBITION: November 8, 2013 - December 6, 2013
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(between John St & Plymouth St)
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