Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: Of Statues and Effigies by Adonis Stergiou

Cemetery sculpture is something I never tire of looking at, in person while wandering a cemetery, or in book form on an inclement day at home.

Of Statues and Effigies is such a book. Author Adonis Stergiou concentrates on the faces of the sculptures found in the cemetery of Xiriotissa, Greece. During the Greek War, from 1945 – 1949, this cemetery was also used as an execution site, and for mass burials.

Stergiou tells us “the effigies are representations of people not always well known… It's usually far harder to learn of the person represented by them since they were not “historically” significant. Of most of the subjects I had spotted, those seemed the most neglected.”

But the neglect seems to add another layer of depth to this art. Many appear as though the sculptors caught their subjects amid a “life” moment.

Photo of Actor Thanos Leivaditis
Thanos Leivaditis, a Greek actor and prolific screenwriter who penned thirty screenplays during his lifetime, was sculpted to look every bit the unhurried businessman on his way to an important meeting, sporting a suit and tie with every hair in place.

 Military figures, with uniforms and caps in perfect order, are plentiful here. But look closer and each face will capture your attention. It's almost as if a bit of each individual's personality has been been captured in the likeness.

Two soldiers stand close together, gazing out into infinity, but the elements have left marks. It appears as if each man is sporting long sideburns instead of the rain tracks and erosion that marks each face. The sculptor, Nikos Perantinos, was known for his simplicity and classical form, to which the elements have only add enhancement.

Another face has been weathered in such a way it appears at first glance as if a tear is escaping from the man's eye.

Older statues sport the heavy mustaches and wavy hair of the late Victorian era along with pocking from the elements and a slight cast of mold.

The statue of Anastasia Hatzimitala is amazing. The only woman featured in the book, she wears a covering on her head; what appears to be veil like a nun, or a peasant. Her eyes are lifelike and she looks directly at you, into your soul without reproach.

Drawing of Athanasios Diakos
Stergiou ends his book with a photo at a tilted angle that has us looking up at the statue of Athanasios Diakos, a Greek military commander and national hero. Diakos fought against the Ottoman army in 1821 (and lost). He is remembered as a martyr for the Greek cause.

Adonis Stergiou tells us “This project was about neglected memories which are still visible and present among us.” After reviewing this book, I see those weathered and time-worn faces of cemetery statues in a more artistic light.

~ Joy

Author Adonis Stergiou
Book Details:
Of Statues and Effigies by Adonis Stergiou
Available for purchase at Amazon by clicking this link:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: Burden of Wings by Mauro Marinelli

A new art book for the cemetery enthusiast is out, one that captures the true essence of the graveyard as a gateway between the living and the dead, with inspirational photos.

Mauro Marinelli
Burden of Wings is a well-composed book of cemetery photographs taken with, of all things, a Polaroid camera. Photographer Mauro Marinelli shoots with a well-trained eye, offering the reader what he calls “the instant and the everlasting” all in one shot.

The beauty of this instamatic camera process is that you see exactly what this moment looked like at the time the shutter snapped; there’s no digital manipulation, no Photo-shopping to make the image more dramatic, more enticing, more moody. 
Just life as it existed in a cemetery at a certain moment in time.

Marinelli uses this camera to his advantage, letting the plastic lens soften the focus a bit, making the images become almost real to us. His focus on hands: clasped, reaching, comforting, quieting … allows us to identify with the statue while creating a subconscious wish for movement; a will to release the stilled hand from its pose, allowing it to complete its movement, and to continue the moment …

But as we know, in death, physical movement is gone, no longer feasible, and with these sculptures and photos, no longer necessary to capture our attention, to evoke a deeper sentiment, or to execute a heartrending sadness.

Marinelli provides us with the essence of each stone, managing to coax out our emotions regardless of our wishes.  With cogent intent, he “commits the act of photography” - offering the reader a photo; one which holds the passion of a two lovers forever locked in a kiss, another depicts the weariness of an angel’s shoulders as her wings begin to droop protectively around her.

With Burden of Wings, we are called to interpret each photo with our emotions, and with what we see. As Marinelli explains, we are “looking into the abyss of the unknown from a safe seat in the arena of the living.” How true, and how exquisite the journey!

~Joy Neighbors

Book Details:
Burden of Wings by Mauro Marinelli
Published by Kehrer Verlag (2015)
Available for purchase at
Amazon   Website: