Stelios Skopelitis

Skopelitis Stelios
© Fabienne Balez

Born in 1942, in Mytilene, he is a photographer since 1966. He was a columnist at the Greek newspaper “Ta Nea”. His essays and interviews have been published in Greek newspapers and magazines. His work has also been presented at the Greek television show “Paraskinio” by director Lakis Papastathis in 1983. His works can be found in private collections in Greece and the U.S.A., at the collections of the Municipal Art Gallery of Athens and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete in Rethymnon. He lives and works in Athens.


Solo Exhibitions


Triptychs Carob Mill – Cultural Centre Panormo Village (curated by Maria Marangou)


Antipolis The Art Foundation Athens


15 Skies and an Immortal Galerie 3 Athens


Nocturnes Zalokosta 7 Gallery (Gallery 7) Athens


Nicosia: The Last Divided Wall in Europe Melina Merkouri Cultural Centre Athens


The Books of Herakleitus Art House S.Tryfon Lesvos


The Books of Herakleitus Zalokosta 7 Gallery (Gallery 7) Athens


Nicosia: The Last Divided Wall in Europe Famagusta Gate Nicosia


The Hideouts of the Photographer Art Space 24 Athens


Moments Zalokosta 7 Gallery (Gallery 7) Athens


Eros and Polis Diana-Yiulia Gallery Athens


Men and Landscapes Zalokosta 7 Gallery (Gallery 7) Athens


Triptychs Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center Athens


After Rodin Zalokosta 7 Gallery (Gallery 7) Athens


Images from the Industrial Area Lavrion: Serpieri Industrial Area Lavrion (with the support of the National Technical University of Athens)


The Gazi National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum Athens


About Love International Festival of Patras Patras


A Greek View of Paris Institut Français d'Athènes Athens


Images of Athens Skoufa Gallery Athens


The Hideouts of Photographer Stelios Skopelitis

It is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say.

Μichel Foucault

The human linguistic idiom allows reflection.

Peter Ouspensky

The photographer stands at a distance from the landscape. He observes it as closely as he can, in case there is something more to discover. The first look he cast doesn’t seem to have betrayed his ability to see things as they seem. He will probably click the shutter and capture the moment as he’s focused on it. But the finger still depends on the gaze that is trying to make out something. He lifts his head lightly, turns his eyes to the landscape with more certainty, and this time he is probably ready for the moment he is waiting for. We are looking at his back and he is still wavering between the moment of anticipation and the one that just passed. Thirty years later, the photographer decides to exhibit his photographs. He has often returned to the place where he took them, at the same time, always in summer, wanting to see how much the place has changed, if what he saw the first time around has changed. What is alive can never be the same, only fossilised things do not change. The “stone giant” that inspires Homeric myths and folk fairy tales may have lost the game with time, disappeared along with other elements of nature. Just like intellect makes the old heroes of childhood adventures disappear. Perhaps the “double peak” that appeared through the darkness, like the two hedonistic nipples of a girl, was overwhelmed by so many eyes that it covered itself in a veil of indifference. The sea, that so sweetly licked the bay of her vagina as long as she remained a virgin to the few people who had approached it.

In certain recent shots in different places, the photographer chose black and white film, in contrast to earlier photographs. Like strange back-turns of time, sweeping up the senses in a game of pre-death colourless lands, bathed in the strong light of the sun, impossible to ascend, barren and rough. These colourless places look so much like paintings at times, with the soil that covers them, that it seems like you’re seeing the hard surfaces, made up of unprocessed materials, of Art Brut. The photographer created so many associations of spiritual impressions that he is ready to dream of his death taking place in the vaulted tomb of Pylos, homeland of Nestor. After unfolding the memories of impressions from the idyllic landscapes, after toiling on the barren mountains, he lies on the soil of the vaulted tomb to allow his self to rise through the emotions at that moment when the soul touches eternity. We know that dreams picture either that which existed and passed or, more frequently, that which never existed nor could ever exist. He invokes a non-existent moment in the past or some non-existent situation in the present. And since in dreams there are no moral rules, the photographer lets us observe the image, exposed to the abstract doctrines of death, the separation of the soul from the body, the ambiguous meanings of the afterlife. More or less, everyone has come across similar landscapes when travelling through and observing nature. Many have tried, with their own cameras, to hold on to the moments from the places that enchanted their senses, in memory of their travels. The images of our photographer contain a trick. They are not simply photographs that provoke the senses, nor shots that will become postcards to cover the needs of tourists. They have been taken with the intention of leading us to lose ourselves in the infinity of the subject. The blue that surrounds us and plays the leading role in his images has been processed as required to bring out the scenographic qualities of the space. Each photograph has different shades of blue that allows the lines of the landscape to dominate or to disappear. Thus, the solid masses of nature take on a larger weight in the dark shades of blue that picks out the outlines and makes their shapes somewhat hard. The gaze wanders in a delineated space that seems unreal. Without escape from the margins of the image, it is forced to seek the action of some figuration. The artist’s intention is revealed in one of them, when the “stone giant” appears, sacred in his stillness, imposing in his scale, looking through his serpentine eyes at those who look at him, in awe, from below. Conversely, lighter shades of blue secure a lightness in space and dissolve the forms, allowing the gaze to wander off, unrestricted, to the horizon. The space breaks out of the frame and lets thought stop at the infinity of nature by itself. And when, in the black and white photographs, the blue is deprived of its role, the landscape seems to have been designed with several lines that intersect and others that clash. Balance between mass and the void of the atmosphere becomes a pressing matter, demonstrating that the composition has a different value when colour is absent. The texture of the earth becomes substantial, its details meaningful. In the photographer’s colourless landscapes, all the components of the image are redistributed in support of thought. It is thought that expands time and makes man reflect upon the harrowing course of his development. This earth was walked by people and tribes, invaders and conquerors, travellers, wayfarers and seekers. It is the colourless history of man on earth. Without the blue colour of the sky, the brown of the soil and the grey of the rocks, the photographer’s colourless landscapes become fields of action for thought that seeks truth, mainly in transcendental knowledge. The photographs, however, as a whole, are series of lived images. Our understanding of them depends on our level and our ability, and not on their meaning. We analyse them, in order to articulate the potential objectiveness of a knowledge of nature that “shows itself and, at the same time, hides within lived experience”, as Foucault observes (“The Order of Things”).

His colourful and colourless images, and the one where he dreams his own death on Nestor’s tomb, affirm that our photographer, for the past thirty years, has chosen to work on analysing his personal experiences through the camera and the processing of images. We can discern, in the series he decided to exhibit in those decades, the consistency and honesty he employs in subjecting himself to psychoanalysis. He never set out to challenge, even when his subjects were challenging, as was the case with his slaughterhouse, his pornographic and his nude series. He never promoted an aesthetic approach to architectural subjects to the detriment of human emotions; barrenness, solitude, sadness, anxiety, uncertainty about death, even when his choices were: the neoclassical houses of Athens and Piraeus, the Towers of Mytilene and the mansions of Lesvos, industrial buildings in Gazi and Lavrio, architectural structures at the Athens cemetery, indoor spaces in run-down Athens. He did not merely show us how the photographer feels before these architectural subjects, but he unfolded his thoughts on the history of these particular, once ‘living’ spaces. The same goes for the portraits of modern Greek intellectuals: every face is a map of human knowledge.

That is why I believe that the systematic way in which he approached reality meets the “philosophical anthropology” of Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945), which demonstrated that when we look into mythology, language, art, science and religion, we are not discovering the ultimate reality but our own human dimension. The photographer attempted to capture that which, hidden, coexists with the superficial. To offer the viewer the potential objectiveness of empirical and transcendental knowledge at the places he lived and through the people he met. A deeply analytical knowledge, that allowed him to immortalise human values as they are imprinted in the spaces and the actions of people, as these change from era to era. Which is why the “Hideouts of the Photographer” are a look at nature, free of dogma and religious doctrines that validate and extend existence. There, human presence is not made visible by on-site constructions, but exists as timeless word and memory in writings and in images.


Yannis Kolokotronis
* From the catalogue of Stelios Skopelitis’s exhibition “The Hideouts of the Photographer”, Art Space 24, Athens, 2000.