There are moments in life when you feel like you are losing everything; the laughter, the joy, in short the colour disappears from your life. You are ALONE, nude, mourning about what you lost. You have to find the strength to stand on your own feet again and find the light in the darkness that surrounds you.
– Mihailsk, June 2022
With these words, Greek photographer-artist and observer of life Mihailsk introduces guests to his exhibition Alone, which forms the June exhibit at Dido Haas’s Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. As might be gathered from his intro, this is an exhibition that leans into darker feelings and emotions: loss and loneliness, depression and hurt, whilst also offering a sense of hope beyond the shadow and pain.
The fourteen pieces Mihailsk presents are extraordinary in the depth of life they each offer. All are finished in black and white, using deep shadow and nudity to tremendous effect. But while nudity is present, it is not excessively NSFW, (although caution might be best employed with a couple of the pieces). Nor is its presence in any way gratuitous; rather, it is essential to the exhibition’s theme and tone.
This is because – as Mihailsk notes – nudity is the most physical manifestation of helplessness / being alone. When nude, we have nothing by which to hide our condition; we are literally and metaphorically laid bare to the world and our scars are openly visible; scars that are not necessarily physical, but certainly emotional (and represented here by the tattoos, marks and drawings present on Mihailsk’s torso and face). Thus its use within these images is a literal expression of naked emotion.
Similarly, the use of shadow and monochrome project feeling and mood. The shadows are perhaps most obviously representative of depression, feelings of darkness, loss and being lost. At the same time, the use of shadows to obscure eyes (together with eyes being closed) speaks again to sorrow, loss, and emptiness.
Contrasting with this is the use of light, both directed and visible. Through the pieces, whether indirect and lighting Mihailsk’s body and face, or direct in the form of beams of light falling across him or the presence of a ceiling light, give a sense hope for the future, and happier times will come again. More particularly, its presence within the images literally pushes back against the darkness, bathing Mihailsk in a sense of warmth, a visual reference to the fact that bad times do come to an end and that – to borrow from another expression – our darkest times come just before the brightest.
This hope is further expressed through pose. Nowhere is the figure slumped or huddled; instead, the poses all contain one or more suggestions of strength: a muscular outstretched arm, a seated back that is straight, not curved in defeat; the fluid movement of dance, and so on. Thus, they further add to the sense of hope for the future, that our inner strength will allow us to survive and to move forward as we seek the light of better times.
Accompanying the art are two quotes from Greek writer and poet Anastasios-Pandeleïmon Leivaditis and Belgian poet and novelist Eleanore Marie Sarton, both of which perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the exhibition. This can be found on the gallery wall, while lighting by Adwehe has been provided to add further atmosphere to the piece (make sure Advanced Lighting Model is enabled).
Rich in metaphor, meaning and very real emotion, Alone is an exhibition of enormous personal depth, but which offers a richness of feeling that it resonates strongly with anyone who has experienced one or more periods of loss and / or darkness.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery (Sunshine Homestead, rated: Moderate)