In memory of Kostas Balafas
Impressive photographs of high artistic value are on permanent display in the hallways and the interior of the hotel. They were taken by Kostas Balafas, a renowned Greek photographer.
Kostas Balafas (1920-2011) was a great Greek photographer, known for his work during the Second World War (Albanian war-front, the German Occupation and the Greek Civil War).
He also took photographs of ordinary people in the Greek countryside. He was born in a small village in Epirus. He left his home and went to Athens looking for a job. He worked at a dairy and attended school in the evenings. He went on to the dairy school of Ioannina and then to Italy where he stayed until 1939.
He completed his studies in Dairy Produce Making. He worked at the Dairy School in Ioannina. He was in Ioannina during the Italian Invasion and the German Occupation. He joined the ELAS( Guerrilla) Forces as a Private and he took photos of fights, war-atrocities and the harsh living conditions of the people in the countryside.
In 1991 he published an album which contained photographs of the Guerrilla War against the Occupying Forces. He worked as a cameraman for the Greek television channels and in film-making. During his studies in Ioannina he bought his first camera( a junior “Kodak” ) which he later replaced for a “Robot” camera and he learned the art of developing photographs in practice working at a nearby photo workshop.
He used his camera to immortalize the Greek army on the way to the Albanian War-front, the German Occupation and the fights of ELAS. His work later became a great photographic document which together with Spyros Meletzis’ work, is virtually the only historical evidence of the Greek Resistance. The harsh living conditions and struggles of the Greek people for independence and dignity affected him deeply and formed the style and content of his work. He was mainly concerned with social issues.
Everybody accused me of shooting scenes of wretchedness and misery. I didn’t use to show my photos around. I had my own way. This is what I am. And I don’t think I was wrong. Shooting a few chrysanthemums or a boat swaying in the sea breeze does not mean much. Here is a great kind of people who passed with fire and sword from Yusuf’s yataghan and Father Kosmas’ rope. These people I take photographs of.
In 2008 he donated his work at the Benaki Museum. 1500 black and white negatives from 1939 to 2000 and 60 short films are going digital. Customs and traditions of the Greek mainland and the islands were also of interest to him