Nicolas Karakatsanis boasts an impressive resumé: the celebrated photographer and director of photography, with his use of chiaroscuro, has attracted the interest of many. He has worked with innovative directors like Romain Gavras of M.I.A. and Justice music video fame andMichaël R. Roskam, and he’s even made some controversial music videos of his own for Balojiand Hickey Underworld. He was the first photographer to be awarded the Jo Röpcke award this October at the Ghent Film Festival.
Antwerp-born Karakatsanis’ brooding aesthetic speaks with a powerful and deeply personal voice. A self-proclaimed member of the ‘Cold-War’ generation of artists, Karakatsanis grounds his work in the reality of human experience and sees no need to bury his images beneath layers of heavy-handed symbolism, something that’s unfortunately all too common. Rather, he’s consumed by the technical detail of constructing a photograph.
The title of the show refers to the absurdity of Karakatsanis’s artistic enterprise, in that his search for profundity is constricted by the impossibility of complete honesty. The thirty pieces, all taken within the last year, were personally selected by Karakatsanis and arranged by the creative force behind the Alice Gallery, partners Alice van den Abeele and Raphaël Cruyt. Karakatsanis has also prepared a basic photography booklet for the show, which suggests a desire to concentrate more exclusively on photography and to bring the show worldwide.
Through his photography, Karakatsanis attempts to do the work of a painter, leaving a personal, physical mark upon the image rather than attempting to represent intangible truth. The influence of Caravaggio is apparent in his portrayal of a dark-lit, gleaming skull, while throughout the Alice collection the contrast between light and dark cements his bond to the Flemish baroque masters. There will be only one printed copy of each image: Karakatsanis believes the printed, tangible image is something totally unique (though there’s an abundance of photos posted on his blog). Rather than working thematically, he captures encounters and does not choose his subject matter in an abstract or ideal way, but rather tries to record experiences as they occur.