GIANNIS DIAMANDIS Walking with Lafcadio Hearn 2009 [R/A] - x +

CN: DiaG2009walk

MT: installation: pencil on paper, gilt wooden frame, shoes (P:150x100 / T:161x111x80)

LC: ACG Art Store

CT: Athens Art Gallery, Athens - 2009

CM: Giannis Diamandis became interested in the course of Lafcadio Hearn, who was born in the country of his mother, grew up in the country of his father, worked in the New World and chose to live in Japan. This is reminiscent of the adventures that the ancient Greeks experienced when they set out to discover the world. Lafcadio behaved like a genuine Greek - he did not remain at the place of his origin, but traveled throughout the world. As a matter of fact Diamandis is convinced that for Lafcadio ' Greece' was but an idea whose meaning he found when he got to know Japan. Perhaps this explains why he stayed there until the end of his life. § Looking at the historical picture of 1891, which presents Lafcadio wearing a formal kimono on the occasion of his first 'Shogatsu', the new year in Japan, Diamantis noticed that he did not wear shoes, while he seeming to be in contact with the space and to feels at home. Therefore, in front of the full-length portrait of Lafcadio Diamandis placed his personal shoes. In fact, once the author puts in front of the portrait he creates his own shoes they automatically become Lafcadio's. The drawing is founded directly on the ground and touches the wall with an inclination, so that Lafcadio may descend from his pedestal to join ordinary people, like the artist himself. As the title suggests, Walking with Lafcadio Hearn, the composition presents a traveling together of the sitter and the invisible owner of the shoes.

Diamandis dealt with shoes throughout his artistic course. The motif of shoes in the work serves the role of symbol/invention, which indicates the position its owner in society. The worn shoes symbolize the daily human contact with the earth. Beyond their use as service instruments shoes give information about the sexuality, economic status, psychology and cultural level of their owner. They are also intensely personal as identity - lined, inhabited, molded, haunted by the form of the feet that wear them, carrying the scent of their owner's toil. The physical wear identifies with the decay of the human body through time, while the wrinkling on their surfaces identifies with the wrinkles of the face of their owner. Shoes signify the relationship of man with earth and illuminate his course in life. Diamandis is interested in the fact through shoes -owing to the body's absence- we may imagine each in his own way the man who has worn them. Diamandis treats shoes as portraits that seem to confront us with such a real gaze, as if it they were actual portraits. Once someone wears them they acquire the form of his feet and the smell of his toil, that is, they identify to his course in life. Diamandis says characteristically: "My really used and worn shoes, betray the routes I left behind me and become a symbol for walking along new routes that opened before me, and the ideal of a life that is perceived as a pilgrimage, a perpetual exchange of experiences".

The coupling of portraiture and shoes in Walking with Lafcadio Hearn becomes relevant in the knowledge of Diamandis' personal experience. Even in a young age, he was touched by a certain incident of a fellow countryman from the Northern Epirus, who owing to his being orphan lacked shoes. He himself gave his own shoes to his fellow human being so that he may not walk barefoot. With similar emotional charge Diamandis humbly offered Lafcadio his own shoes, believing that as a poet he would value them as luggage of the course until the moment of meeting with him. On another sphere, Diamandis would have wanted his own course to enrich the poetic experience of Lafcadio.

Diamadis was also interested in his work to be simple, yet concentrated. He transferred the photograph's density in a scale close to life. The combination of drawing and white background refers to the relationship between life and death. He treated the white background as the realm of history where Lafcadio is bathed in full light. The drawing is like millions of cells in multiple layers as found on the human body. He wanted his work to express not a freedom of gesture, but a respect for the material of memory. From the countenance of Lafcadio he kept to his soul. He created the drawing in detail not to demonstrate his painting skill, but to bring the viewer closer to Lafcadio.

[Megakles Rogakos 04/2009]