Joe Tsambiras’s philosophical exhibition, PORTL, at the Swan Coach House Gallery, [August 22-September 21, 2013] included intricate etchings and transformative stained glassworks. The fantastical world of his lush imagination whisked me away into another realm. Fauna from classic fairy tales, labyrinths that seemed to have come straight from a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, and adoration for the Middle Ages that stemmed from Tsambiras’s childhood came together in splendid pastiches. Bold graphic design elements grounded the works and surprising nods to the domestic, such as a toilet and a bathtub, provided exciting twists in this maze of aquatints.
I became entranced with one of the prints containing a labyrinth, and felt as if I had chosen every path, and was experiencing multiple journeys simultaneously! Delicate illustrations of botanical life forms seemed to symbolize the importance of imagination and intuition over reason and logic. The figurative elements in several of the works, including some drawings of his wife, were poignant. I was confronted with the existential crisis of chaos that we are born into; the things in life that we can’t control. Tsambiras collaborated beautifully with the uncertainty of life, which served as his intriguing partner.