Dancing with the Camera: Luca Artioli

Posted on 09 May 2011

Luca Artioli is an Italian contemporary photographer and poet recognized all over the world. This interview reveals aspects of his past work and insights on his inspirations and technique.

1. You are Italian, but you live and work in Miami. Why did you choose to come and live in the USA?
I think that my soul needed different colors to inspire my life. The winters in Milan are always cold, grey and long. In order to find a renewal of inspiration I thought that a warm and colorful place like Miami could nourish me. And it did. At the time, new art galleries were opening in the Wynwood art district and I believed I could fit in this flourishing artists community.

2. You have published many books by the well-known Italian publisher Mondadori, in which you put together photos and poems. Do you think of yourself more as a photographer or as a poet?
I see myself as both. My stories are told with images and poems: Sometimes the words happen first, others it is the pictures that inspire the poem; yet the best moment is when words and images match seamlessly, a story is born and a new book is completed.

3. How would you sum up the most important stages of your career?
The source of my inspiration was certainly the mountains, a hideaway I used go to in order to shake off the city stress and recuperate my energies. In my photographs I tried to present an alternative point of view to the beauties of nature, revealing even the most hidden and secret expressions of the Earth which abounds in extraordinary and curious forms.
I later switched my focus from the landscapes of nature to those of the human body. The evolution of my technique and my style brought my stories to concentrate on the human condition. My published book about India was selected by the designer Hermès for its Indian collection campaign in Italy. Subsequently I worked on “Beyond the Dark“, a book centered around mental depression that proposes a means to break away from pain and darkness while embracing light and peacefulness.
My last book, “Seasons of Music” is instead a very colored and serene project. It’s an interpretation of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos that was realized in partnership with the musicians of Milan’s greatest classical music venue, the Teatro alla Scala.

4. When did you start your collaboration with Zadok Art Gallery in Miami?
My partnership started with a photo exhibition entitled ArtDECOnstruction that opened during the week of Art Basel in 2009. With ArtDECOnstruction I attempted to present a new interpretation of the many Art Deco elements that you can find in Miami Beach.

5. Your latest exhibition at Zadok Art Gallery, “Serenissima Dreaming” features hazy visions of Venice, Italy. What has inspired you in this work?
Frederic Letzelter, director of Zadok Art Gallery, and I decided to devote a photo exhibition to Venice. This series of photos is inspired by English painter William Turner, who visited Venice three times from 1819 to 1840. I have been mesmerized by Turner’s use of light. It’s like translucent air and water that seem to merge one in the other, palaces and buildings that appear to float like galleons of eternity. Turner’s vision of Venice was akin to my vision of a city suspended in an eternal age where the past blends with the future.
I attempted to recreate that atmosphere using different camera techniques, such as playing with movement, changing the length of the exposure, shutter speed… The result is a series of surprising images with a strong poetic side. The photos are not retouched with Photoshop and what you see is the original photo shoot.
As in Turner’s original paintings, we can discern buildings, bridges, squares, but all the architectural details are purposely out of focus, giving the impression that we are in fact moving into a dreamlike Venice where gondolas carry us in a different dimension.

6. You say that you do not use Photoshop to create your effect. Could you briefly explain what your technique is, and whether you use a digital camera?
I have started using a professional digital camera about 3 years ago. At the very beginning I felt quite uncomfortable with digital, as it was not easy for me to produce the same image quality I was able with film. After some months of practice I started to take pretty nice pictures and now I am happy with digital. My photography looks very artistic, in some cases the pictures are like watercolors or paintings, and people often ask to me what kind of Photoshop filter I employ. I do not manipulate any of my images with Photoshop at all! I only use the camera like a painter uses a paintbrush: I move the camera and I set a long exposure time. People looking at me when I shoot this way may think I am a crazy photographer, some time it looks as though I’m dancing with my camera!

7. Can you talk about your next project?
I am presently trying to make a new book with La Scala Opera House of Milan. After working with the musicians now I have started to work with the dancers on the Romeo & Juliet ballet. I am also working with furniture designer Fendi Casa that sponsored my last exhibition for the Miami Art Basel week. We are trying to realize fabrics with some of my artistic photos for their new fabric collection. I have never experienced this kind of project, so I am very excited and curious to see how one photo can live on the fabric.

I would also like to teach art photography again. Many young and creative photographers ask me for internships at my studio. I would love to make people understand how to see things in a different way, how to discover the hidden beauty in nature and in human beings, how to represent feelings, emotions and the sense of wonder.


-Stefano Maranzana

Categorized | Artist Interview