Meet the Genius Street Photographer You’ve Never Heard Of
I had a great uncle Frank “Yaki” Yakimovich whom I met only once at a family reunion in 1982. He was what you call a rock hound. I remember he led me to his faded Arizona car, opened the trunk, and pulled out a roundish rock, a hammer, and a chisel. With a single strike, he cracked open the rock. The center was luminous with crystals. “It’s a geode!” Uncle Yaki put it in my hand. I stared at it, and at him, and then back at the rock. My eight-year-old mind was blown. I have never looked at a rock the same way.
The work of Charalampos “Harry” Kydonakis makes me think of geodes and the wonder I felt when I first encountered them. Harry doesn’t use photography to stop time and describe space. He uses his camera and flash like a hammer and chisel to crack open time and space. He shows you what was there, and then he shows you a bit more than what was there. The work has some of the moody beauty I see in Gueorgui Pinkhassov, the deep regional and narrative integrity I feel from Cristóbal Hara, and the raunchy dark comedy of late Philip Guston.
When Harry, who is known as “dirty harrry” online, speaks about his photographs he talks about “his island” and “his village.” He talks about girls, animals, and shadows. The pictures have details that repel and attract; they have a smell, they have a breeze. The more you look at the work, the more you think that there is indeed an island, a village, that looks like this all the time. A place where faces go black or are lit from below, where animals and kites appear unexpectedly, where people from the present, past, and future mingle. His pictures flirt with the ironic, at times they border on the insane, and yet the car stays on the road… I believe in this place, Kydonakis’ island, pictures that make me feel like I’m moving back and forth between the concrete and the imagined, revealing depths that surprise and inspire. I believe that Kydonakis knows how to find and open geodes.