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39 Coffee Houses & A Barber's Shop

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The coffee houses which Tzeli Hadjidimitriou photographed in Mytilene are like old pieces of china kept in the dresser with the glass panes and the mirrors. Bright and shiny. Their architecture and their spontaneous beauty represent facets of a dying culture. They give the impression that they have always existed. There is a certain timeless quality about them. They belong to a far-removed past as well as to yesterday.
They are full of light. The light of Mytilene. Their colours are those of the flowers in the fields. Their patrons’ faces are illuminated by a sacred light. There is a feeling of serenity about them. They stand there, before the arrival of the messenger. They will soon be demolished and replaced by new multistorey buildings. They have not yet lived through the various unidentified departures-death, migration, illness.
Glasses of water, spoonfuls of shirupy sweets, countless cups of coffee-those are their weapons. Their chairs are like those in the paintings by Theofilos or Tsarouchis. Their tables are like those in the poems by Elytis or Ritsos.
The coffee houses in Mytilene photographed by Tzeli Hadjidimitriou are like flowers clinging to the edge of a precipice-the precipice of the life and death of the islanders. Of the people in the whole word. They remind me of a dying art. The art of serenity, where heart problems and high blood pressure have no place. This is why they look like churches consecrated to unknown deities. To lost paradises. When we behold them, their beauty makes tears well up in our eyes. Tears of a pure soul.
                           
Yiorgos  Chronas

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