By Eleni Sakellis
BROOKLYN – Greek photographer Petros Sofikitis presented his first overseas solo exhibition, Hinterland, which opened on Friday, Apr. 28 in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Art-lovers who visited the exhibition were impressed with the dramatic photographs. Dedicated to all things that lead to one's fall and rebirth, the exhibition took place in an atmospheric loft with the works suspended by ropes in an irregular manner, evoking a visual maze. Not only a feast for the eyes, 20% of every sale during the exhibition was donated to the charity organization Axion Hellas.
“What color is isolation? How are misguided journeys mirrored on one's face? How fine is the line that separates the beginning from the end?,” are a few of the questions explored.
As the description of the exhibition explains, “Five intriguing characters, with different experiences and theories of life, physically exhausted and psychologically drained, are identified in Hinterland, a land where life begins and ends, having one thing in common: an acceptance of their mental breakdowns.”
At the exhibition on Saturday, Apr. 29, Sofikitis, who was born and raised in Athens (his father hails from Andros), spoke to The National Herald about the inspiration for some of the photographs. He mentioned that the man in the photographs with the rusting ship is his uncle. Sofikitis also told TNH that he happened upon a place where all the floats from the carnival celebrations were discarded, and seeing the peeling paint and the decay among the smiling, strange figures that once decorated the floats, inspired him to use them in his work. The resulting photographs are evocative and the tragic-looking figure among the colorful, yet discarded objects creates a rich, thought-provoking, and powerful image. The pared-down, maze-like presentation in the intimate space of a Brooklyn loft only enhanced the viewing experience.
Sofikitis uses dramatic light sources and chose five locations across Greece as his backdrop, ideal for creating an emotionally charged atmosphere. He targets five different characters and psychoanalyzes them through his lens.
“Egoistic behavior that results in narcissism, careless decisions that wreck the soul, repetitive life patterns that push happiness away and hold firmly onto frozen smiles, unfulfilling love affairs that lead to the disorientation of one's emotional journey, and destructive habits that subordinate the soul. All this is flawlessly depicted on the heavily made-up faces of the heroes in Hinterland; providing that it is at this moment when man believes in his own downfall, that it will come unforgiving and raging.
Hinterland is a mind game. A maze that traps one's thoughts within its intricate pathways, immersing them in darkness. And yet, the isolation experienced by these heroes is not real. It is an illusion. This realization is what leads to rebirth. Since there is always a silver lining that encourages you to follow the light, leaving the darkness behind you. There is always hope. Sofikitis magnificently captures this hope in the face of a woman and the red balloon she holds – a symbol of both the soul’s revival and rebirth,” the description notes.
There is a haunting quality to the photographs, but the last image in the series offers hope for the future. Sofikitis told TNH that the last photograph hints at what he may be working on for his next project, though he observed there is no set plan, and sometimes the work just happens.
According to his biography, after graduating from Napier University, Sofikitis returned to Greece in 2008 and began his professional journey following in the footsteps of his father, the renowned photographer Dimitris Sofikitis. A creative and restless soul, he began his own photographic explorations, and in 2011, established, together with his brother Constantinos, a company that offers photographic services specializing mainly in travel and wedding photography.
Abstract and with a unique ability to tame natural sources of light to his advantage, Sofikitis manages, through the spontaneous subject matter of his images, to trigger strong emotions, and welcome the audience to accompany him on his photographic journeys.
He now collaborates with Google Greece and TedxAthens, and as of 2017, his photographs have captured the attention of both Eurobank and FoxHellas leading to collaborations with both. He has taken part and been awarded in a number of renowned competitions, among others the SWPP competition where he received the title of ‘Contemporary Portrait Photographer of the Year’ in 2011.
A member of the newly founded charity organization Axion Hellas, Sofikitis travels to remote areas of Greece in order to capture the pains, joys, hard work, and relief of all those fighting for survival, for a better life. His work has often been reproduced by some of the largest Greek online media channels, while his solo exhibitions have taken place in some of the most important galleries and renowned exhibition spaces in Athens.
More information is available online at www.psofikitis.com, on Facebook: www.facebook.com/petros.sofikitis, and on Instagram:petrossofikitis.