IL: ACG - Deree College, Arts & Sciences Department, Office #525 of Dr. Wayne Burke
CM: The personality of Lafcadio Hearn charms Vassiliki Koskiniotou for the bold course of his life, his open-minded spirit and his deep love and devotion for places and persons connected with him.
From the texts, she noted a phrase from a letter to his brother in 1890 that refers to motherhood and how a mother contributes to the shaping of her children's personality. There he writes: "It is the mother who makes us, makes at least all that makes the nobler man; not his strength of powers of calculation, but his heart and power to love. And I would rather have her portrait than a fortune." This passage expresses a special sensitivity towards the archetype of the mother. Koskiniotou wrote the phrase in Greek as a tribute to his Lefkadiot mother. She chose to incise the passage on the canvas like an indelible gesture linked to the primordial origins of writing. The olive-green color of the words' background is an indirect reference to Greece.
In the composition's upper right section Koskiniotou wrote Lafcadio's name in Japanese - Koizumi Yakumo - as it indicates the identity he chose during the mature part of his life. In creating the right part of the picture she sketched faintly the imaginary portrait of a woman who is actually taken from the classical photo of the couple Setsu - Lafcadio, but could also refer to a fine Lefkadiot, as his mother. She w ears a kimono, but the garment's folds could belong to a traditional Greek costume, which explains its deliberate indeterminacy: a timeless female figure, as an adored mother, a beloved woman, a devoted wife. Koskiniotou notes keenly that in New Orleans Lafcadio had no hesitation to marry the mulatto Alethea Foley despite miscegenation laws at the time, which cost him his job. The overall work has been inspired precisely by this sense that Lafcadio was a man who truly loved and honored the women of his life.
On the work's golden section hovers a sphere, a symbol that often recurs in Koskiniotou's painting. Herewith it suggests the globe - a reference to Lafcadio's cosmopolitan personality and his great transcontinental route, which started from the 'navel' of the earth - as Greece is considered - passed to the West in order to reach the Far East. The same sphere refers also to a Japanese lantern that is self-luminous, as the spiritual light inside his work. The sphere is traversed by an orbit which is inscribed with the work's title Le Long Voyage de Lafcadio H. (The Long Voyage of Lafcadio H.). At the orbit's lower section faintly appears a house - a reference to his origin in Lefkada. At the top the orbit terminates in a golden house / arrow. The gold refers to both the material and spiritual wealth that is connected with the wisdom of the East. The composition is structured by the juxtaposition of the painting's dark areas and the bright sphere, obliquely resembles the traditional tonal contrast that is typical in Japanese art.
[Megakles Rogakos 04/2009]
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES The Open Mind of Lafcadio Hearn 2009 The American College of Greece, Athens