The fact that a city so readily divulges her secrets to Viviana Peretti, or more aptly to her camera lenses, does not come as a big surprise. Viviana spent much of her childhood and teens in a small town close to Rome, greater part of a decade in bustling Bogotá, Colombia, briefly spent time in beautiful Marseille, France while firmly anchoring herself in the global village of New York. In true sense, as in life so through her art, Viviana has treaded from serenity to pandemonium before being back to orderliness. The artist is also an anthropologist who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rome in 1997. Viviana is fluent in multiple languages besides being proficient with the language of images. Nine years spent in Colombia have provided her with the necessary impetus to document lives of people around her as viewed from her own unique perspective. In 2010, she duly earned a degree in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in New York.
Unlike many other photographers of her generation Viviana Peretti finds herself equally adept in using analogue, digital cameras or even iPhone for the purpose of storytelling. These are only instruments for her to be used in accordance to the objective of the visual narratives akin to a painter’s choice of medium or different types of brushes. She also loves the freedom of selecting the subject of her photographic essays for herself, so much so, that often for her personal projects she captures the imagery for a particular series first and then pitches it to media for publication. It is undoubtedly an extremely risky venture, something that many would dare not attempt. But she hardly believes in a set formula for success. Viviana received numerous fellowships and awards including the Sony World Photography Award earlier this year. She keeps herself devoted in honing her skills as her reputation increases by the day and her photographs are featured in many esteemed newspaper and periodicals across the globe. She is determined to give every flying minute something to keep in store.
Nonrepresentational art captured the imagination of artists since late 19th century. But in the major part of 20th century it literally devoured the hearts and minds of painters, sculptors and even architects. From fauvism to futurism, cubism to Dadaism the language of artistic abstraction evolved at a rapid pace. A world ravaged by war and economic depressions needed a radically different thought process for re–establishing order, mending broken lives and alleviating pain as best as possible. The romanticism associated with baroque, rococo or neo–classicism seemed like a distant memory and was hardly relevant in the backdrop of death and destruction. Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, one of the founding members of Futurism, summed up the despondency perfectly when he said, ‘There is no longer beauty except in the struggle. No more masterpieces without an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault against the unknown forces in order to overcome them and prostrate them before men.’
In this artistic milieu Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg introduced neo–plasticism to the world. They stripped their canvas of everything except pure lines and shapes depicted in solid blocks of black, red, yellow, blue and white. A new dialect of art was born that is faithful only to the purity of geometric forms. It became hugely popular among artists across Europe and North America.
Rosemarie Bloch was born in 1940, Cincinnati, Ohio. She was too young at the time to understand the impact of abstract geometric painting and why Broadway Boogie–Woogie completed by Piet Mondrian in 1943 is still one of most treasured items in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Graphic designers found the theme inherently stimulating. So it does not come as a surprise when Rosemarie Bloch find her artistic expressions in grids and become motivated to explore and paint a city’s vista on canvas in the language of abstraction.
We would never know if the famous Rascal Flatts song Life is a Highway was in the back of the subconscious mind of Joe Simpson, the gifted artist from England, when he created Across America. For the paintings, often consisting fleeting images of a vast country, evoke a feeling of Life’s like a road that you travel on / When there’s one day here and the next day gone / Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand / Sometimes you turn your back to the wind. If noticed closely the sketches, monochromatic and denuded from any distraction, feel even more intimate. As if you may find your own home or the corner of a street of your neighbourhood staring back at you from the frames!
Joe Simpson is one of those artists whose faith is firmly rooted in realism. He uses facets from everyday lives to weave his story on canvas. So common men and women with their hopes and aspirations, love and affections, despondencies and rejections become loci of his narratives. In that respect his work is a golden link between him and the masters of Dutch Golden Age who brought genre paintings into the centre of attention. Appropriate to the age the backdrop changes as much as does the characters. The rustic folks busy in merrymaking or a lonely girl working at a corner of a room are replaced by men and women jostling with each other in an urban setting or a forlorn figure intently reading a letter with a smirk on the face. And at times objects like telegraph poles and pylons set up against the wide blue yonder are personified to communicate their own story.
Born in 1984, Lancaster, England, Joe Simpson acquired critical acclaim showcasing his work in a number of galleries in United Kingdom and beyond. Not only did he manage to excel in a relatively short period of time but also exhibited his entrepreneurial and organisational skills. His series Almost There and Musician Portraits required considerable efforts from his part to make the collaboration between him and some of the busiest musicians of this day as smooth as possible. To provide for Across America he depended on crowd funding and returned the favours of the contributors by sending them his paintings. His favourite artist Edward Hopper asserted, The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm. Let us then try to peep into the heart and mind of this young painter.