Being part of New York’s art and fashion worlds probably means knowing Christos Katsiaouni. Gregarious, thoughtful and ever-aware, the photographer has captured some of the city’s most important cultural moments across his 10-year career. His work has been featured in many prestigious publications, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview Magazine, the Washington Post and New York Times. His precise eye frames moments of sublime energy. His quick lens captures imagery for all to relish or remember—or experience for the first time. Now, a decade in, Katsiaouni has a debut exhibition, “10 for 10.” Held in the Lower East Side’s Sensei Bar and Gallery, 10 works represent the development of a career. They speak to the artist’s style and, ultimately, they reveal a playfulness that shows even the most serious photographs can be a joy to look at.
“I think a lot of people in the arts are very tentative in terms of putting themselves at the forefront, basically out there, until they feel they’ve got it right,” Katsiaouni explains to CH. “I am one of those people, hence the long road here. The truth is that it’s probably never right, but over the last few years I’ve been trying to live by the ethos, ‘If not now then when? If not me then who?’ I sincerely try to encourage others in the arts to feel that way about their work and career.”
There’s more underpinning the importance of the show, as Katsiaouni makes clear, “I am a working photographer. I am very focused trying to hustle and make an income, I take pride in that. Assembling a show while trying to make a living seemed daunting for a long time. Put in work first, sit back and analyze/show after.” With the support of friends and family, and a portfolio bursting at the seams, the time was now.
Reducing his selections was no small feat. “I want to pay homage to the nights and people that have brought me joy—and a living,” he explains of the themes, linked by movement. “When you view the set as a whole you should feel like you’ve been brought into the best night ever, that you have an insider’s view. My criteria for the photographs were that they had to be strong individually and showed well as a whole. Diverse like my city, beautiful like my city.”
Far from staged scenarios, Katsiaouni works his way through crowds, attempting to land something exact. Real people—some well-known—make for the subjects. Actual venues—some extraordinary—make for the settings. The variables are high, with chaos playing a role. “I think I can speak for most photographers when I say when you know you’ve got the picture you just know. I’m not bullshitting when I say that when I get a photo that I know is significant I literally get high off it,” he says. And there’s professional affirmation in that. “Taking a great picture will make one feel like you’re made to do this photo thing, everything makes sense for a few hours.”
For years much of Katsiaouni’s work came through referrals (and plenty still today). Perhaps it’s because what motivates him, what grabs at his retinas, and how that translates to a photograph. “I love and aim to capture pure joy, enthusiasm for being alive,” he concludes, “as well as pensiveness, beauty in many guises, diversity. I aim for aesthetic beauty and to capture time and place.” And clearly that’s exactly what one can find at his exhibition.
“10 for 10” runs 7 to 18 February, with an opening party on 7 February from 6PM. Prints from this show will be available for purchase.
Portrait of the artist by Annie Powers, all other images by Christos Katsiaouni