Yiannis Marapas | Portraits

The Portraits of Yiannis Marapas are images which both draw on and enrich the special tradition of the psychological portrait. Eschewing superfluous or merely decorative details from the surrounding space, they focus exclusively on the human form and the special energy radiated by the subject in the presence of the camera’s lens. They are images microscopic in dimension.

Without exception, the photographer’s subjects stare directly into the lens. They do not appear rigid or prosed, but nor are they caught in a moment of spontaneous, natural movement or expression. They seem rather to be willing participants in a type of photographic ritual, initiated by the photographer himself; a number of them are even dressed in their own, particular “uniform”. The purpose of the ritual is to allow the subject o devise a mask which will give the impression to his inner self. In all the photographs the surroundings are invariably steeped in shadow, the outline of the human figure barely emerging from the near-black background. This concept of virtual darkness evokes fascinating associations. It appears to symbolize the profound darkness in which the human destiny is shrouded. That darkness from which man emerges and to which he must finally return.

As a series Marapas’ portraits constitute a personal theory of the world, in which life is a unique performance offering us at most the possibility of some degree of self-knowledge, certain forms of awareness, an inner-peace. This much at least is identified by the camera’s lens, the incontrovertible witness. The size of the photographs (contact prints just 10 by 12,5cm) is a significant factor in our reading of the images, making each figure one of the basic particles from which an infinite universe is assembled. And this is perhaps the subtext of those portraits: their emphasis on the microscopically paticular as a necessary counterweight to the overweening arrogance of the individual.
(Hercules Papaioannou)


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