Next: Christos Dikeakos at the Vancouver Art Gallery

I first came across Christos Dikeakos’ work earlier in the year during the Capture Photography festival and commented on one of his exhibitions in my TAOP course. So I was very pleased to see that he was exhibiting at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Christos Dikeakos was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and moved to Vancouver in 1956 and is a Vancouver-based artist. His works along with the likes of Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace contributed greatly to the development of Photoconceptualism in Vancouver.

In Next: Christos Dikeakos, the seventeenth installment  in NEXT: A Series of Artist Projects from the Pacific Rim,  Dikeakos investigates indigenous cultures along the Northwestern coast. He shows how one culture interacts with another through collecting as both Indigenous and non-indigenous cultures engage in economic and cultural exchanges. On display as well were 66 Northwest Coast baskets from his own collection.

Next: Christos Dikeakos
Next: Christos Dikeakos

His prints were huge and the viewing distance which one assumed lent to the feeling that one was in the actual location of the photograph. The colours in the prints are bold and well saturated creating a sense of joy throughout. Two of the prints, Raven’s Tail, 2014 and The Room, Three Vests, 2009 are of the interiors of Northwest Coast stores and offer us views of commercial exchanges. All the prints are staged tableaux all containing metaphors and signs relating to Northwestern Coast culture. Says Dikeakos of Raven’s Tail:

To the left is Lisa Hageman, who is trading a handmade wool dance apron, signifying the shimmer and gleam of the raven’s tail, for a woven spruce hat made by Lisa’s great grandmother Selena.

Christos Dikeakos, Next Gallery brochure

My favourite image is The Music Lesson, 2013 and depicts  a little girl playing her violin on camera left against a background of various Northwest Coast artifacts. Seated at a desk to the right is an elderly gentleman against  a background of blue washed wood paneled walls displaying various Northwest Coast baskets and some Western items of interest. The tones in this image are so rich and voluptuous, they almost feel decadent, yet at the same time totally authentic. Standing in front of this massive photograph I felt as if I was part of the image, watching and listening to the little girl’s music. There are definitely overtones of the Dutch painters with respect to tones and lighting.

The Music Lesson resonates with the collector’s passions by introducing the young girl, Mia, who shares the same space, but is focused on her lesson and practice. Dikeakos’ use of historical European tableau painting as a model (likewise for other works) generates a space in which the Mediterranean and European worlds conmingle with that of Northwest Coast peoples. The image is composed of two separate shots … the joining point is the edge of the living room wall. In this bicameral image we can consider the invisible presence of the Muses of Greek mythology, who protected and encouraged the arts, and whose name the word “museum” is derived from.

Christos Dikeakos, Next Gallery brochure

These photographs in this body of work are all so rich in meaning as each item depicted in the image has its own connotation and that would be a whole study of Northwestern Coastal symbology on its own.

Reference List

Dikeakos, Christos. Next: Christos Dikeakos. Gallery brochure, Vancouver Art Gallery

Dikeakos, Christos (2013). The Music Lesson [online] Canada House, London. Available from: http://canadahousecollection.co.uk/the-collection/photography/the-music-lesson [Accessed 11 November, 2015]

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