Agra Publications, Athens,1987. (Bilingual, greek-english), 48 pages, 24x17cm, Foreword by Niki Loϊzidi. 21 colour reproductions of art photographs of 1986-1987.


Foreword to the book Unfavourable Conditions 86-87, Agra, Athens 1987

I would like to avoid a tedious introduction bringing up for the nth time the false problem of the choice between art and photography. Besides, it seems to me that Aris Georgiou has fully assimilated a profound truth, which was first uttered in the early part of this century by Moholy-Nagy and the perceptive Walter Benjamin. Photography is not primarily an art, but a means of expression, which, among many others, opens the way to artistic creation. It is difficult, certainly, to draw a clear dividing line between the technique of painting — which was making use of the camera obscura as early as the Renaissance — and that of photography, which is equally bound to a number of traditional visual conventions. But, particularly nowadays, photography would seem to offer one important advantage: it can isolate and record, as no other expressive medium can, and with “deceptive” precision, the fragmentary and complex nature of present-day reality and also of our modern perception of the imaginary.

From the earliest days of his creative inquiry, Aris Georgiou seems to have had this issue uppermost in his mind. In “Circumstances” (1972-83), he investigated different ways of observing the same phenomenon or the same landscape, revealed antitheses or unspotted similarities between fragmentary images of different cultures, and recorded the “visual unconscious” — details or incidents from everyday life which we cannot “see” or retain. At the same time, in another area of exploration, “ANASYNgRAPHES” (1981-4), there was a rich range of nuances and parallel aspirations: from study of the relationships between form and live or experienced space, Aris Georgiou went on to develop repeated geometrical schemas or motifs inspired by his environment and the modern polyplasticity of form.

In his latest creative output, the fruilt of some two years’ work, Aris Georgiou has been experimenting with a “photo-painterly” mode of expression: a fertile confrontation between the two media, neither of which is subordinated to the other. The title, “Unvavourable Conditions”, undauntedly expresses the difficulties, but also the challenge and the unexpected delight of the enterprise. The black, unexposed transparency which serves as his raw material is the power which will be activated after a number of processes (scraping, colouring, projecting and enlarging, reproducing) have cultivated and elaborated the game of chance. One might say that Aris Georgiou is exploring a new dimension of the imagination, where an intangible form of painting is active, full of tensions, constantly changing shape without ever attaining a final form. The dark surface functions not as a void or a neutral support, but as a secret energy which, thanks to the various processes, can emotionally charge or stabilise the formal episode, which are conceived almost solely in terms of sound and light. However, this adventure is revealed to us through technical processes which open a window onto a world quite different from the one defined by Alberti. Terrestrial landscapes, trees, masks of mythical heroes, the Cross, all become the signs of a new script; figures of an electronic epic which are baptised anew in an interplanetary concept of illusion and the illusory image.

The camera obscura is a deceiving mechanism from which we cannot free ourselves. It brings us face to face with the lost illusions of tradition, while at the same time creating new ones, which are possibly even more deceptive, but often unexpected and delightful. Certainly, we have lost confidence in the “unique” capacities of our own eye; but we are gradually, bit by bit, becoming aware of the new world which is approaching.