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KNOTORYUS Interviews Nicolas Karakatsanis Before His First New York Show

KNOTORYUS Interviews Nicolas Karakatsanis Before His First New York Show

[Nicolas Karakatsanis & Ingrid Deuss Gallery]

Our love for Nicolas Karakatsanis is well documented.

The range of this man's talents is truly impressive. He is a much-in-demand Director Of Photography with credits on Oscar-nominated movies, art films and mind-bending videos. He is also a photographer with considerable artistic powers. It's still a bit surreal for us to think that a year ago we were just avid fans and now we've had the privilige to work with him on a fashion shoot in collaboration with the Antwerp Fashion Academy.  If any of you find yourself in New York between November 8 and December 6, go see Nicolas' newest exhibit in the VII gallery in Brooklyn. It’s called ‘Chromes’, it looks amazing and we used it as an excuse to ask him stuff.

Where are you typing this? 

Nicolas Karakatsanis: “Bangkok”

What (mental) state are you in?

NK: “Excited.”

In the press release for 'Chromes' it says you are "at the still relatively tender age of 36". That 'relatively' kind of killed us. Do you miss being a twenties underdog? Is it better now than it was then?

NK: “The feeling of being the underdog helped me just do whatever I felt doing in a healthy naive way. Nothing has changed, really, but I do feel more eyes peeping over my shoulders. I still do whatever I do for myself, so whatever quality I aimed for in the past; I still try to achieve an equal amount of it now. Is it better now? I think I'm maybe more excited now, because I know I have to push myself even more than I used to, so it rises the excitement levels. I guess that's really the dick!!”

What’s the weirdest compliment anyone ever gave you about your photographs?

NK: “Somebody once told me he understood the story behind my pictures. I had to disappoint him, there's no binding story behind my pictures. The only thing that binds my pictures together is me. I don't have the feeling my pictures have a narrative sense. They should be individual characters. I guess you could say they are all sides of a prism, being me.”

 [Nicolas Karakatsanis & Ingrid Deuss Gallery]

Last time we interviewed you, you said you had just taken the best picture of your life. It had your boyfriend in it. Is that picture in the new show?

NK: “No, that one got sold. It's weird, because all of my pictures are unique prints, so I don't own my own prints most of the time. I only have a quick look at them after they are made, and then they leave for whatever exhibition they have to go to. I don't produce a lot of printed work. More or less all the prints I made until now were sold. For this new exhibition, I wanted to make different kind of work, which goes pretty much against the previous sets of pictures I made in the past. It’s all studio-based work. I used references from old classic painters and tried to simulate body movements in a very basic way. I’m very pleased with the results, and I think it pushed me as a photographer.”

Why the title “chromes”?

NK: “I originally wanted to name the expo 'Chromes' because all the prints were going to be positive Fujichrome prints (a.k.a.  'chromes'). I wanted all the pictures to have an even more unique, archaic feel. They can only be made in a very specific size (8x10 inches). I did some tests and it really looks very nice, but I’m not yet satisfied with the end presentation. I’m still working on it. I kept the title because I still like the sound of it, and because it reminds me that I still need to finish this experiment.”

[Nicolas Karakatsanis & Ingrid Deuss Gallery]

You mentioned that you look for “solitude” in the subjects you photograph. What does solitude mean to you? (Is it positive, negative, comforting?)

NK: “My photography originated from my solitude. Solitude defines me as a human being. I travel a lot, and that's one of the reasons why I started to take pictures. As a photographer, it makes sense to be all by myself. I guess that's my way of handling this feeling of always being on the road, and to cope with it. I find it a positive thing. It always fueled me as an artist, including my d.o.p. work.”

What are you looking forward to doing and eating in New York?

NK: “I absolutely need to go back and eat donuts from 'Dough' and 'Peter Pan Donuts'. It’s amaaaaaazing.”

Dough - Tropical Chili Doughnut

We were so honoured that this summer you collaborated on a shoot with us which was titled “I am a god” because it fitted both the Antwerp fashion academy masters’ outcry to be seen and our mutual obsession with Kanye’s album “Yeezus”. How did you like working with your friend and fellow photographer Toon Aerts on a fashion shoot?

NK: “It’s always cool to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. It pushes yourself to do stuff you didn't think you could. That was my main reason to do this shoot. I’m not used to shooting still pictures as an assignment. Good memories!”

Nicolas Karakatsanis & Toon Aerts - I Am a God - for Kwintessens (styling and production by KNOTORYUS)

Backstage at the "I Am a God" shoot

You have done a shoot as a Director Of Photography for Dior. Any new fashion work on the horizon?

NK: “Not specifically. I worked with Willy Vanderperre. It was a really cool experience, but I don't know whether fashion peeps liked it or not. Anyway, again, it's something challenging that I thought was interesting to do. Let’s see what the future will bring us.”


These New Puritans ‘Organ Eternal’ by Willly Vanderperre – DOP: Nicolas Karakatsanis.

Which artists are you currently drawn to?

NK: “Manet Manet Manet Manet. I love his work. He’s one of my favourite painters... I’m also a big fan of Nicola Samori. He’s a very different painter, but I have a strong connection to his work. It's very dark, very well painted, and a touch of humor. I own one of his paintings 'la massa'

Manet ‘Asperges’

Nicola Samori - Dettaglio, Carrara marble – photo Uwe Walter

Nicola Samori -Acquario

Nicola Samori - L’oro galleggia

All images via Nicola Samori.

Is there a painting you've gone to see more than once at a museum? Which one?

NK: “Sure! Ferdinand Kopf 'En ecoutant du Schumann'. I love this painting. Also one of the paintings I used for as a reference for the new expo. Classic.”

Ferdinand Kopf 'En ecoutant du schumann'

There’s a Michaël Borremans exhibit coming to Brussels next year. Describe Michaël for us.

NK: “Great, mystical guy. From day one we clicked together. He actually really is his own paintings.”

Michael Borremans "Bread" (still)

When was the last time you dreamt about a celebrity? Who was it and what happened?

NK: “I don't dream. I don't sleep.”

What do you think about when you're bored?

NK: “It’s time to check mails.”

When was the last time you went all gooey inside?

NK: “When I’m eating a pizza at 'La Belle Equipe'. Mmm... spinach pizzaaaaahhhhhh!!!!”

What’s the most recent (YouTube-) link you mailed to a friend?

NK: “I guess it's a link to a commercial I did for Mercedes. Pretty boring if I may say so.”


Mercedes Benz - “Sensations”

Are you good at keeping friendships?

NK: “I’m very bad at keeping friendships. I’m never home to be around my friends. only the ones who know me for a long time are willing to accept this fact. It’s not always fun to be gone.”

What has been the biggest challenge the past year?

NK: “The new photo exhibition. The thinking process took a while to figure out. The actual production was actually relatively fast. I’m very satisfied with the new stuff, and it got me thinking about my future in still photography. The new expo opened a new direction and potential for future work. I’m excited.”

When we asked you what you would mostly be shouting in 2013, you answered : “This is the dick!!!” what was an absolutely “this is the dick!!!” moment in 2013?

NK: “Shooting 'Animal Rescue', the new Michael Roskam movie, has been a lot of fun. I hope it turns out as good as I think it could become.”

The late James Gandolfini and Matthias Schoenaerts on the set of 'Animal rescue'. The movie will show Gandolfini's final work. Image from The Skeleton Herald.

What’s going to be the line for 2014?

NK: “I dunno yet, I’m still in love with the dick!!”

[Nicolas Karakatsanis & Ingrid Deuss Gallery]

Nicolas Karakatsanis


November 8, 2013  -  December 6, 2013

VII Gallery

28 Jay St

(between John St & Plymouth St)

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Neighborhood: DUMBO

Tel: 718-858-3130

Open from 10am – 4pm  Monday-Friday

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