11 Mar 2021

Nikolas Ventourakis - New Works from his US series

Unframe London

Nikolas Ventourakis - New Works from his US series

An in-depth look at Greek photographer Nikolas Ventourakis’ new photographic works, discussed in his recent INSIDE THE STUDIO event with Unframe.

In light of our recent Unframe INSIDE THE STUDIO event ‘Nikolas Ventourakis in Conversation with Shoair Mavlian’, we explore Greek photographer Ventourakis’ new photographic works, launched during the talk and exclusive to Unframe.

Ventourakis talked about his US work with Shoair Mavlian, director of Photoworks, Brighton during the event. They discussed the artist’s latest body of work, ‘BRDG’, shown by Ventourakis in its entirety for the first time in the talk, looking at it in the context of his US works and as well as his wider practice. ‘BRDG’ is an exciting new series consisting of photographs of the iconic 6th Street Viaduct in Los Angeles. The talk also coincided with the launch of three new works by the artist from his time in America, for his Fulbright scholarship, looked at in more detail below. 

BRDG 5

Nikolas Ventourakis

BRDG 5

C-type print on di-bond, unframed, 2020

150 x 120 cm

BRDG 5

‘BRDG 5’ is a photographic work from Ventourakis’ new series, ‘BRDG’. He takes detailed photographs of the iconic 6th Street Viaduct in Los Angeles. During his time on his Fulbright scholarship in Los Angeles, Ventourakis lived very close to the bridge, within the arts district of LA, and was drawn to it as a subject. The name ‘BRDG’, or ‘bridge’ derives from a miscommunication between himself and residents, where he would often call the various viaducts; bridges. The viaduct is an acclaimed monument and has been widely used in cinema, American literature and photography. The structure was famously used in the 1978 film ‘Grease’. The bridge connected the Boyle Heights neighbourhood with the Arts District in Downtown LA.

6th Street Viaduct

However, the demolition of the structure currently severely impacts the local community there. Ventourakis immortalises the bridge in his capturing of it, in particular focusing on details of the structure. ‘BRDG 5’ depicts a poignant memory of the structure that is no longer in existence, through a personalised and abstracted lens. Looking at the work of photographer Catherine Opie and her 1994 ‘Freeway series’, Ventourakis was hugely influenced by her abstract lens and inspired him to shoot in an abstract form. Ventourakis intends for the viewer to see a ‘ghost view’ of the bridge. Eventually, this makes the imagery we see as the viewer, select and curated by him. In short, Ventourakis never reveals the bridge in it’s entirety, instead we see fragments that he encourages the viewer to piece together.

In many ways, photography becomes a medium where in which you select what you want to see. However, Ventourakis took this idea to the extreme here. The project is based on the 6th Street Viaduct, but visually he removed the bridge. He gives the viewer glimpses and fragments of the structure.

Motel Series

In Ventourakis’ ‘Motel’ series, he describes each photograph as being particularly, like a love song. In the first place, the setting and specific environment of a motel in his series is something familiar to all. He evokes the generic American Motel experience. His ‘Motel’ series evokes a closeness and in short, a familiarity between viewer and artwork. The architecture and features of the room become identical to motel rooms each viewer will have stayed in at some point in their lives.

Untitled (Hair Dryer 2)

Nikolas Ventourakis

Untitled (Hair Dryer 2)

Fibre Based B&W Print, 2021

20.32 x 25.04 cm

Untitled (Hair Dryer 2)

Ventourakis’ new piece ‘Untitled (Hair Dryer 2)’ is part of his ‘Motel’ series. The series depict details within Motel rooms across the US, made whilst on his Fulbright scholarship. ‘Untitled (Hair Dryer 2)’ depicts a seemingly mundane scene of a hair-drying fixture on a wall. Like much of his photographic work, in this series Ventourakis chooses to focus only on details within these scenes. Without the bigger picture, we as the viewer see a curated and emotive depiction from the artist. This work sits between being art and documentation, and questions the status of the image. As an artist, he fascinates himself with narrative and conclusion in his work, as well as evidence within photography.

In his photographic series ‘Motel’, he leaves viewers to fill in missing blanks and take their own interpretation of the imagery. Through photography, one way to create an environment is in the materials he uses. As part of his process, Ventourakis simultaneously always considers how his photographs will be shown and exhibited. Much alike to painting, Ventourakis does studies, shooting a series of images and subsequently deciding what he deems the final artwork.

Untitled (Luggage Rack)

Nikolas Ventourakis

Untitled (Luggage Rack)

Fibre Based B&W Print, 2021

20.32 x 25.04cm

Untitled (Luggage Rack)

Ventourakis chooses rooms in LA Motels as the subject of this photographic series ‘Motel’. Made up of both colour and monochrome photographs, the series explores these mundane rooms through details rather than the room as a whole. Ventourakis often challenges the viewer’s assumptions of his photographs. Equally imporant, his focus on photographs of domestic environment stems distinctly from a fascination with narratives and conclusion. In particular, he invites viewers to consider ‘Untitled (Luggage Rack)’ as abstracted documentation of noticed details within a room. In the series, he uses details as the focus of almost all his urban photography. Eventually he begins to make up a new space entirely. He does this by using simple images without direction or obvious explanation. His photographs represent a relatable feeling of yearning, for places we know, places we’ve heard of and those we think of.

Nikolas Ventourakis

Nikolas Ventourakis received a MA Photography from Central Saint Martins, London, following his BA from TEI, Athens. He was visiting artist at the California Institute of Arts, as well as the recipient of the FULBRIGHT Artist Fellowship (2014/15). His awards include winning the Deutsche Bank Award in Photography 2013; Fellowship – Niarchos Foundation (2020) and Finalist of the Celeste Prize (2013). Solo and group shows include ‘The Same River Twice’, Deste Foundation with New Museum at the Benaki Museum, Athens; ‘Young Greek Photographers’, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography; ‘Hors Piste 14’, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tirana Biennale; The Photographer’s Gallery, London, and 3rd Industrial Biennale, Istrai, Croatia.