Müri b. Bern, CH
PICTURES WITHIN PICTURES
Reality only becomes apparent when it is lit up by a ray of poetry.
A coffee spoon in the corner of the picture shows a reflection of the outside world.
A jacket over the back of the chair shines against the background light.
A glass of water brings the turquoise blue of the river Aare into the picture.
The bare tabletops become colourful stage sets.
Mirrors and glass doors meet in playful transparency.
I look out of the window onto the light green foliage.
Giorgos Saltaferos paints small-scale, square domestic interiors. This extensive collection of paintings has an outstanding variety, but is nonetheless consistent. In each picture the artist uses composition, light/dark contrast and colour to create a particular atmosphere. Generally the eye is drawn away from the foreground across complex mid-distance scenes to windows looking out onto a bright exterior, creating a striking sense of space. Reality is depicted in a way that is not photographic, but is deliberately rearranged, concentrated, reduced and rendered more precise. There is nothing random or out of focus in the artist’s miniature worlds. Every detail is equally significant. Viewers can walk away from these pictures wondering why they stopped in front of a picture rather than another. The collection is also an opportunity to engage in pleasant comparisons.
The subject-matter does not fit into any particular genre of painting. We are offered a combination of object studies, still life, interiors, architecture, vegetation and abstraction. We often find the delightful effect of pictures emerging within these pictures, only to blend back into the whole again.
The European baroque movement included the development of a type of painting known as “still life for the five senses” as a way of encouraging and enjoying the pleasures of sensory perception. The works of Giorgos Saltaferos could be described as “spatial narratives for the five senses”. We hear the newspaper rustle, feel the warmth of the red cushion, smell the coffee, taste the cold water and are fascinated by the coloured reflections. Standing in front of these works, our hearing, touch, smell, taste and vision can trigger synaesthetic experiences.
Is there any need to know the exact locations depicted? Are the names of the cities, cafés, public and private spaces from which the artist draws his inspiration really necessary? Not at all; these pictures enjoy a general representative validity that transcends the personal. There are cups and tables, chairs and windows everywhere around the world; we each have our own personal repertoire of such scenes stored in our individual image memory. What matters here is the artist’s empathy with the simplest things and situations. This art is an invitation to stop for a moment, look carefully, reflect and pause to be invigorated by the medium of art.
Katharina Bütikofer, artist, curator, tutor at the University of Bern, Switzerland.