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Report: Culture

Pilot-turned-photographer finds beauty in banal

“Parking Signs” from the series A world of Immaterial Objects
“Parking Signs” from the series A world of Immaterial Objects The Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Prints/Yiannis Galanopoulos

After 10 years as a helicopter pilot for the Greek army, Yiannis Galanopoulos certainly developed an eye for spotting ordinary objects from afar. His military training helped prepare him for a career in photography.

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“I took a lot of my previous profession and put back into photography. If you can actually see part of the way I see things, from a distance and from above. So I combined everything”, says Galanopoulos at the opening night of his first exhibition here in Paris.

The bare walls of the La Petite Vivienne gallery, nestled into a corner of the grand belle époque style of the Galérie Vivienne in central Paris, come alive with the prints of his photography.

A splash of red frames a building, a dash of blue showcases a yellow towel - they are all prints of the ordinary but taken from a different vantage point, followed by meticulous framing of the shot and a play on patterns and colours - Galanopoulos turns such items into the extraordinary.

““First I see colour, and then I see geometrical patterns and objects that people generally overlook. But the main concept behind the work is that I try to take these objects from their context in these forms and industrial elements and give a new life to them with photography”, explains Galanopoulos.

“So in a way I strip them out of their everyday context and I’m trying to show a new version of them. And try to make a new conversation with the viewer of their new identity”.

Even the untrained eye can’t help but notice the poignant play of contrast in his photos.

Despite the sweltering heat of the gallery, there remains a constant crowd of people who gaze up in awe at the simple beauty, for example, at a framed shot of the side of parking lot building.

It’s the kind of thing we pass every day, just another parking lot, but Galanopoulos captures it from an angle that plays with the colour, pattern and texture of the subjects. You almost have to do a double-take to understand what it is you are looking at.

But perhaps this is the creative liberty Galanopoulos takes, probing the viewer into questioning his or her surroundings and delving into the old adage “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.

Slideshow: A world of immaterial objects
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