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Journey with the light March 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Cyprus, Fashion & Style.
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International fashion photographer Tony Moussoulides is finally exhibiting his work in the country of his birth

The avant-garde show is entitled ‘Moussoulides: 40 Years a Journey with the Light’, and on the outside of the invite a pair of sultry eyes stare back at me. On the inside, a beautiful model smiles as the dazzling sunlight hits her face. I am later informed that this picture once graced the pages of Italian Vogue. Yes, I was invited by a man who has snapped top models in his London studio, who was all chummy with Mary Quant when she decided to make the mini skirt the next ‘big thing’ in the swinging sixties, and who was called up by Andy Warhol to fly over to America pronto because he was in desperate need of a good portrait of himself.

In 1966, Moussoulides represented Britain at the Milan Film Festival with his documentary ‘Splifs, Joints and Pot’ and in 1971 he was the first fashion photographer invited to cover the Paris collections for Marie Claire. Quite a career. After working for Marie Claire, he was immediately welcomed into a top notch crowd of the hip and happening in New York fashion, the creme de la creme of photographers, and became part of a handful of European names that constantly worked with editorial and advertising projects in the very mecca of photography. He has since taken pictures for all the highest selling glossies; from Paris to Milan, London to New York, he’s been there and done it.

From tiny island to fashion capital, one would think his journey would be a rocky one. Not for a man who can boast determination as his middle name. Moussoulides moved to London in the 1960s and was hired as a Bond Street portrait photographer for singers and artists. But his heart was set on becoming a fashion photographer, and every month he would religiously pop into the nearby studio of the legendary John French, fingers crossed that they would take him on. Time after time, he was told that they just didn’t need another assistant.

“One day my luck changed,” explains Moussoulides. “I was walking past his studio late one evening and John was sitting in the reception enjoying a glass of sherry with his wife and they called me in. Conversation turned to just how desperate I was for the job, and I said I would do absolutely anything to work with him. To prove my point I asked for a pair of pliers, and made John tug at my teeth,” Moussoulides recalls. “Stop,” John then screamed out in shock, “you’re hired!”

The rest is history, as Moussoulides went from being an assistant in John’s studio to becoming a top photographer for Vogue. Hearing him speak of the buzzing London fashion world is fascinating. There are tales of celebrity weddings, models passing through his studio who went on to be signed by top agencies and memories of what it was like to win the Art Directors Award of New York. But even more fascinating than all the stories, is the fact that he has never actually chased after fame and fortune. Type ‘Tony Moussoulides’ into Google and hardly anything will come up. Why? Because he refuses to be part of such a commercial network. “I do everything possible not to be advertised or found on the internet, it’s against my religion,” he jokes. “I’m known to all the people who matter to me, and people who want me know where to find me, that’s enough.”

And this brings on the story of just how he came to exhibit his work on the island. “My old beloved classmate, Pefkios Georgiades, the late Minister of Education, had come to London to find me a year ago in my Mayfair flat to convince me to show my work in Cyprus. He was certainly right when he said that nobody knows me here, and it’s my duty to show my work in the country I’m from. Now I dedicate this exhibition to him.”

Today Moussoulides likes to call himself an ‘international image maker’ who doesn’t just limit himself to photography. After all, he reached the top of his game so he’s now relaxed enough to put his camera to the side. Currently, he’s working on a new TV drama series, The Booker for which both HBO and ITV have requested further developments.

At the exhibition, to open this coming Wednesday at Kastelliotisa Hall in Nicosia, you can set your sites on photographic images from the artist’s vast collection. He will also be screening a mini lecture where he talks about his fabulous works throughout the years. As the man who first introduced action shots of models in the mid 70s, the exhibit can even be seen as a history lesson in the world of fashion photography.

Probably the most stunning picture on show however, is that of his famous ‘model crop’ where Moussoulides was the first photographer to ever take a close up portrait of a model showing just the eyes, nose and lips, as the ears and hair is cut out of the frame. And, it was Moussoulides’ pioneering style that went on to influence Mario Testino in one of his most famous portraits of Kate Moss. These two pictures will be hanging side by side at the upcoming exhibit. “To be a great photographer you have to do things that nobody else has done before you,” says Moussoulides. Once again, I’m left in awe of a man who can honestly say, “been there, done that.”

Moussoulides: 40 Years a Journey With the Light > An exhibition by photographer Tony Moussoulides. Opens March 28, 7.30pm, until March 31. Kastelliotisa Hall, Old Nicosia. 7.30pm-10pm.

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