Epifanios Haute Couture invited Irini Karayannopoulou to show her work in his Athens showroom. The artist presented a selection of works from the YOU AM I series and a limited edition print based on a Hermès scarf from the 1960’s.


That Familiar Face

Text by Heather Felty


How is it that advertisements seem at the same time so familiar and yet so foreign? There is no way I’d ever wear that perfume, not a chance I’d be caught dead in that coat, and I’d certainly never wear that dress. But what a wonderful life these beauties must enjoy! So glamorous and high class. They must n’t have a care in the world, or do they? Are they so surface and caught up with society that they can’t look deeper?
In Irini Karayannopoulou’s series YOU AM I, we come curiously face to face with the artist herself.
How is it possible that with just a few brushstrokes the artist is able to transform these clearly recognizable, iconic advertisements into self-portraits? She places an average (yet of course very beautiful although wonderfully weird) woman to re-represent society’s most glorified beauty. This perplexes our concepts of seduction and disorientation, of contemplation and regret.
Through the artist’s seemingly effortless gesture, when I look at these portraits, it is as if I’m looking in the mirror until I recognize it is the face of a friend. That familiar face presents an inquiry of seduction, or expectation, and certainly of standards. These now dated advertisements laid the groundwork for our omnipresent social media and paparazzi-consuming seduction that makes us hyper aware of the standards and ideals of beauty.
What do we expect of ourselves in terms of these standards and what do we expect of others?
And what happens when these ideologies merge? Perhaps the high-end models we see in such advertisements are actually quite deep thinkers and transcend the norms of being told how one has to look, act, or be. Perhaps the luxury goods they hawk are merely a love song to the everyday consumer. A small gesture of recognition of inner beauty. Or maybe they are hiding something we common folk will never relate to. Irini’s transformations simply yet ingeniously provide the viewer with a wealth of ideas to consider regarding self reflection and inner beauty.