A Gallery on Milos… and the Power of Juxtaposition in Photography: Meet Dimitris Tsirigotis

Dimitris Tsirigotis’ wide-ranging photography explores Greece’s darkness

I never expected to discover some of the most tragically beautiful photography I’d ever seen while on holidays in Milos last year. My friend and I were ambling through scenic Plaka when I saw a sign that read “The Art House.” I’m rarely one to NOT enter a gallery, and was curious as Milos, though “artsier” than some Greek islands, doesn’t have as established a scene as Hydra, Mykonos, or even Anafi. The minimal space was filled with gorgeous photographs of Milos island, many of which unmistakably belonged to the same person. I introduced myself to the human manning the gallery, who turned out to be Dimitris Tsirigotis, the owner.

The Art House’s exterior

It turned out that many of the photographs were his, and I knew then I had to talk more with him. Many of his photos show Greece’s thornier side, one that often goes underrepresented because quite frankly, it’s not a “pretty picture.” But the subject matter is critical at a time when Instagram-culture veers towards images of happy people partying on islands rather than the Greeks who can’t afford to visit them anymore.

Read on for a glimpse into Tsirigotis’ mind, as it’s one that reminds us of the critical role artists can play in times of political, cultural, and economic turmoil. And of course, not all of the photographs are political. Tsirigotis’ work is wide-ranging and includes some lighter subjects, including beautiful landscape photography, portraiture, and editorial.

What led you to open The Art House? What do you think about the artist community in Milos?

The art house started as an idea six years ago. All this time I was evolving as a photographer the idea was in my mind:  A place that would be something new, different, somewhere where the visitor will be able to travel the island of Milos through my eyes. Here I want to say a big thank you to my friends and all those who supported me on all the difficult journey to bring The Art House to life…

In the last several years Milos has slowly and steadily begun to embrace the art. It has experimental theater, dance, as well as many artistic events and exhibitions. It is an island that surely gives inspiration and creativity, not only to artists but to all.

Editor’s note: Dimitris will host a Fine Art Landscape Photography workshop in Milos beginning October 1. Click HERE for more info.

an eclectic wall inside The Art House

Tο art house ξεκίνησε σαν ιδέα πριν από έξι χρόνια και όλο αυτό το διάστημα που εξελισόμουν σαν φωτογράφος πάντα ύπήρχε στο μυαλό μου. Ένας χώρος που θα είναι κάτι καινούργιο, διαφορετικό, που ο επισκέπτης θα μπορεί να ταξιδεύσει μέσα από τα μάτια μου στο νησί της Μήλου . Εδώ θέλω να πω ένα μεγάλο ευχαριστώ στους φίλους μου και σε όσους με στήριξαν σε όλο αυτό το δύσκολο ταξίδι μέχρι το art house.

Η Μήλος τα τελευτεα χρόνια με σταθερά βήματα αρχίζει να αγκαλιάζει την τέχνη.

Έχει πειραματική σκηνή, χορο, γίνονται πολλές καλλιτεχνικές εκδηλώσεις και εκθέσεις. Είναι ένα νησί που σίγουρα θα δώσει έμπνευση και δημιουργικότητα σε πολλούς καλλιτέχνες και όχι μόνο.

Greece’s natural beauty is a stark juxtaposition to the realities of corrupt government and the current economic situation. You mentioned the “darker side of your themes” and I feel that in some of your photos. What can we learn from darkness and from these juxtapositions in what’s beautiful and what’s lurking darkly beneath the surface?

The contrast is something unique to Greece. Such a beautiful place, with people who destroy it.

The black and the white, the good and the bad, you can use it to express whichever side fits for you.

Personally, for me, the dark and the light go well together.

In the light, everything is beautiful, happy. But in the dark, you see the other self… the fierce, real self that frightens you. That’s what I want to photograph.

Το contrast είναι κάτι το μοναδικό στην Ελλάδα. Ένα τόσο όμορφο μέρος , με ανθρώπους που το καταστρέφουν.

Το άσπρο και το μαύρο, το καλό και το κακό, μπορείτε να χρησιμοποιήσετε οποία εκφράσει σας ταιριάζει.

Εμένα πρωσοπικα μου ταιριάζει, το φως και το σκοτάδι.

Στο φως όλα είναι όμορφα, χαρούμενα, στο σκοτάδι όμως βλέπεις τον άλλο εαυτό , τον άγριο , τον αληθινό που σε τρομάζει, εγώ αυτών θέλω να φωτογραφήσω.

landscapes on naturally astounding Milos

What kinds of cameras do you shoot with, and why?

I use a Nikon D610 in its most of the photos. I started with a Nikon D300  back in photography school, so that’s what I continue to use.

I also have an analog Rolleiflex 1958, and when I find the time, I like to photograph film.

Χρησιμοποιώ την Nikon D610  στης πιο πολλές φωτογραφίες. Ξεκίνησα με την Nikon D300 από την σχολή φωτογραφίας, οπότε συνεχίζω με Nikon.

Έχω επίσης και μια αναλογική Rolleiflex του 1958 και οπότε βρίσκω χρόνο θα φωτογραφήσω με φιλμ.

Who are your greatest artistic influences? (These do not have to be photographers of course)

I have several beloved artists, but I will talk about two who have influenced and inspired me: Bresson in the realm of street photography and Melford in the realm of landscapes. If you listen, you see and understand their work

Έχω αρκετούς αγαπημένους καλλιτέχνες αλλά θα μιλήσω για δύο από αυτούς που με έχουν επηρεάσει και έμπνευση. Ο Bresson πάνω στην φωτογραφία δρόμου και ο Melford στα τοπία. Αν διαβάσεις , ακούσεις, δεις και κατανόησης την δουλειά τους

What subjects and themes fascinate you the most lately?

Because of the situation in my country, I’ve been photographing ordinary people over the past few years to capture just how much the crisis has affected them. You see it in their bodies, in their expression, in their movements. I wanted to show it all I observed and started the True Life project, which I completed after 2 years.

Λόγω της κατάστασης στην χώρα μου τα τελευτεα χρόνια φωτογραφίζω τους απλούς ανθρώπους και πόσο τους έχει  επηρεάσει η κρίση. Το βλέπεις στο σωμα τους , στης έκφρασης τους , στης  κινήσεις τους. Ήθελα να το δείξω όλο αυτό που παρατηρούσα και ξεκίνησα το project True life , το οποίο ολοκλήρωσα μετά από 2 χρόνια.  


What Greek artists, currently working, are you inspired by lately?  

I have tended to be inspired more by foreign photographers than with Greeks .. haha, but I have there’s one Greek director I love VERY much. I will not say his name but I hope he will give me the opportunity to show his work because he is a great artist and always I’m learning something new from him.

Πανω στην φωτογραφια έχω ασχοληθεί πολύ με ξένους φωτογράφους και όχι με έλληνες..haha , αλλά έχω ένα πολύ αγαπημένο Έλληνα σκηνοθέτη, δεν θα πω το όνομα του, αλλά ελπίζω να του δωθεί η ευκαιρία να δείξει την δουλειά του γιατί είναι εκπληκτικός καλλιτέχνης και πάντα μαθαίνω κάτι καινούργιο δίπλα του.  

surreal caves & rock formations on Milos

Check out more of Dimitris Tsirigotis’ work on his website

And be sure to visit The Art House in Plaka, Milos, if you visit the island (which you 100000000% should)

Love this piece? Read our interview with Greek-Australian photographer Polixeni Papapetrou





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