CM: When he brings Lafcadio Hearn to mind, Christos Garoufalis pictures a huge personality accompanied by deep inner calm. So, he took to combine in painting his great literary stature with the humbleness of his character. For this reason he chose to refer to the photographic portrait that Frederick F. Gutekunst Jr. (1831-1917) created of him in 1889 in Philadelphia. The picture represents him looking slightly downward, with a feeling of modesty that becomes the author of a work that continues to be of our concern long after his death.
Garoufalis rose to the challenge to transfer in color the archival black and white photograph. His palette is inspired by Polygnotus (ca. 500-440 BC) who used black, white, ocher and terracotta colors to arrive at the chromatic combinations that are required to produce the otherworldly tonal ranges of esoteric portraiture. He used oil paints in the style of Byzantine art as taught by Yannis Tsarouchis - working from dark to light. In fact, he succeeded in representing on Lafcadio's face the rare expression of 'charmolypi' (joyous sorrow), as depicted on the Fayum portraits and inherited to Byzantine art. The Memory of Lafcadio Hearn, painted on a vertical wooden tableaux that evokes the sense of a funerary stele, is aptly dedicated to a man who has passed away. Garoufalis managed his work to preserve Lafcadio not as a photographic likeness but as a monument to world heritage.
[Megakles Rogakos 08/2009]
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES The Open Mind of Lafcadio Hearn 2009 The American College of Greece – ACG Art, Athens