Beyond his own practise, and as well as various other collaborations across art, music and fashion, Pakioufakis is the photographer responsible for the campaign imagery of the Australian-engineered, Japanese-made menswear label MAN-TLE.
Now some five collections deep, and set to release their first line of womenswear this week, there is no denying the pivotal role Pakioufakis has had in helping to establish the strong visual identity of a relatively young brand.
With an exacting approach to the consideration of form and a shared fascination with Australia's natural landscape, the ongoing collaboration between the two parties is every bit as apt as it is beautiful.
To coincide with the launch of MAN-TLE's R5 collection (menswear / womenswear), an exhibition of selected campaign photographs from Pakioufakis will grace the walls at Dilettante during the month of August.
DIANA: Did you know Larz and Aida before starting to shoot their campaigns?
TRAIANOS: Somehow, not at all. Larz and I share many close mutual friends—I think each of us had heard the other's name in conversation for years—but up until he emailed me to shoot R1, I thought he was a myth. I met Aida a few months after that.
What was their brief for you in regards to this campaign?
Larz and Aida usually initiate a campaign direction with specific textures and colours as a starting point. For R5, we looked for white or light-toned rock surfaces and textures, which of course is in abundance in WA in the form of limestone, etc.
You often work with flora in your work. What is it that draws you to nature?
I think I'm attracted chance situations. In nature, the unpredictable and irregular forms combined with the weather and light of a day create endless, timeless possibilities. It's classic subject matter which inspires me constantly. On a typical day, I'll walk to the beach and sit and watch the ocean and the horizon, to clear my head and get away from screens. On the walk back, I'll catch a gum tree against the blue sky, maybe blowing in the wind, maybe casting long shadows, and five to ten photographs reveal themselves. If I return with my camera even five minutes later, it's possible the whole situation has changed, but there's always something new. Nature keeps you looking.
You grew up in Perth, have lived in Berlin and currently reside in Sydney. Tell us about why you chose to live in these places.
I don't think any of the moves were particularly well thought out, but in the end each city has been crucial to my work and life. For example, in Berlin I got to work with the incredible Kicken Galerie as a graphic designer and reproduction photographer. The gallery looks after the archives of many of my favourite photographers including Andre Kertesz, Helmut Newton and Karl Blossfeldt, and photographic movements such as the Czech and German avant garde, and subjektive fotografie. Working with the archive, up close, was something I couldn't have experienced anywhere else. In between Berlin and Sydney was a very deliberate but short-lived stint in my favourite city—Athens—where a chance encounter with a Perth girl landed me on the east coast. Easily the best decision I've ever made, although I hope to spend more time in Athens in the coming years.
Do you have a favourite landscape that you prefer to shoot?
Definitely the Australian landscape. It's home, but also completely alien and harsh. Finding beauty in it is endlessly rewarding, I truly love it. It reminds me of a wild mountainside tea harvested in Crete. In a local dialect the tea is known as "erontas", meaning "love", simply because it grows in such difficult and dangerous to access areas, yet the yield is always worth it.
How often do you come back home to Perth? Do you work much here?
At the moment about four times a year. It's becoming increasingly harder to be away from my expanding family, so I'm extremely lucky to have a strong client base bringing me back.
Can you share with us why you tend to surround your photographs with quite a bit of negative space?
Have you ever seen a stranger in public scroll through Instagram? It's seizure-inducing. I hope that maybe someone might pause, zoom-in and then continue their sprint. But even in the many years before Instagram, whether it be a record cover or printed works in a gallery, I've always opted for, and preferred, some breathing space, some respect for the image. I'm always hoping for a personal moment with the work, rather than hitting the viewer over the head from a distance. Actually, I think this show is the first time I've presented some work full-bleed, but that again is a practical decision owing largely to viewing distance.
Historically, your printed works have been quite small in size, is there a reason why you don’t usually work in a larger format?
The negative space and smaller works go hand-in-hand. Most of my photographs tend to highlight details or abstractions, something I've isolated from a much larger scene. Whilst I'm happy to present the isolated composition on paper, I still prefer for it to be subtle and intimate, much like I found it.
What is it that you like about wearing MAN-TLE yourself?
MAN-TLE fits perfectly into my daily uniform, I have a few of their black and charcoal pieces. The ethos behind the brand—making hard-wearing pieces which will last many years—is a dream come true for me. Additionally, if you see me wearing colour in the future, it'll be because of MAN-TLE for sure. ✹
Words by Diana Paolucci.
Photography by Traianos Pakioufakis.
MAN-TLE R5 [AW18] launches in store this evening alongside an exhibition of photography from Traianos Pakioufakis.
Thursday, August 9.
6pm - 10pm.
4 Bayview Terrace
Exhibition runs until August 30.