In the heart of any successful story lies man, man as a sentient being, der Mensch as in German or manushya as in Sanskrit; the great doer and the chronicler, an observer as well as the observed. He picks up his instruments of creativity, a pen, a brush, a camera, facial or bodily expressions, voice and so on. He becomes a narrator. He keeps registering events or things that stir his passions through means that he chooses for himself. He weaves himself in his story just as much as he describes his outer world in his narrative. In fact, he becomes his story. The audience too does not remain isolated from the premises of his storytelling but becomes a part of it. In that respect, Giovanni Savino is at once a protagonist, an author and a critic of the many tales that he endeavours to narrate each day. After all, these are nothing but mini episodes of his great life’s show, the core of his creative self. Camera in hand he observes each moment as a precious uncut diamond waiting to be given shape and context to let it shimmer in exhilaration. The weather–beaten traveller that he is Giovanni knows the how a man’s freedom and restriction both lie in these four letters, Time. The acute awareness of it driven him from his birthplace the Tuscan landscape to Dominican Republic and now New York with many stops in between. The consciousness of the same also motivated him to extract the maximum out of his own self, day in and day out, testimonies of which galore on the pages of his illustrious albums and now in this thoughtful interview.
Laura Barisonzi prefers capturing images of her subjects in natural surroundings instead of depending on the tried and tested ambience of the studios. The NYC photographer also likes showcasing people in action. Since she often works with sportspersons, fitness fanatics and dancers, particularly for her commercial assignments, this aspect of her visual narratives thrives on an added dimension. The photographs, exuding a youthful verve, appeal to the senses of the audience. However, as an artist she does not want any stereotypes. So every now and then, camera in hand, Laura embarks on a trip to gratify her inner creative. Her restless eyes keep searching for ‘stories’ in the obscure shades and corners of New York and beyond, before she finalises on the latest topic for her explorations.
In challenging herself Laura finds great satisfaction, for only by doing so she manages capturing such evocative images that otherwise would have been beyond her. Her dedication towards her craft also forces her to stay super–fit as she needs spending long hours under the sun. An outdoor–oriented person and admirer of many sporting activities, this aspect of her work too does not bother her unduly. Many years ago Paul Cézanne said, ‘Right now a moment is fleeting by! Capture its reality in paint! To do that we must put all else out of our minds. We must become that moment, make ourselves a sensitive recording plate. Give the image of what we actually see, forgetting everything that has been seen before our time.’ This holds true for the making of any visual representation, painting, sculpture or photography, for artists before and after Cézanne, including, such talents as Laura Barisonzi.
Brad Spencer is a forerunner among the artists who explored the potential of creating brick sculptures in recent times. In fact he dedicated three decades of his life in perfecting his skills at this not–so–usual–art form. Due to the nature of the work, brick sculptures are particularly suited for public art projects. Many prominent landmarks of Reidsville, North Carolina, where the artist lives, and beyond are now adorned with Brad’s sculptural essays. The visual lyricism of his art is self evident.
Creating exquisite pieces of sculptures, including bas reliefs, of bricks is actually an age old process with an illustrious history dating back to 575 BC. The Ishtar Gate, reconstructed and preserved, is a proud possession of Pergamon Museum, Berlin. But many who visit the museum to observe this architectural marvel do not seem to recognise the fact that this monument, dedicated to goddess Ishtar, is made entirely of bricks. Numerous rows of golden lions, dragons, aurochs and floral motifs studding the gate are nothing but carved bricks sculpted out of the blocks of clay glazed in an ethereally azure tone. Babylonians were responsible for elevating brick sculptures to an art form. Artists and craftsmen of Babylon must have captivated Ishtar, the deity of love in Sumer and Babylon, with such an offering. Brick sculpture did not enjoy such exalted status after Babylon suffered cruel blows into the hands of time.
For over a decade now Matilde Gattoni’s camera lens is faithfully capturing myriad facets of life as experienced in India or Eritrea, Uzbekistan or Iran, Syria or Somalia. Born in 1974, Matilde Gattoni studied History in Universite’ des Sciences Humaines, Strasbourg, France, before giving in to her passion for photography. Ironically, as she now treads the different parts of the world camera in hand she lets her own visual essays to be a part of mankind’s history.
Matilde’s career as a photojournalist commenced when she was travelling in Israel and ended up covering the second Intifada early last decade. In the process she received much acclaim not only from her fellow photographers but also from aficionados of the art. Since 2007, her name was a permanent feature in more than one International Photography Awards (IPA). For her project Drought and Fear in the Horn of Africa she received bronze medal in Px3 Prix de la Photographie in 2012. Her visual portrayal, The Swallows of Syria, earned her 3rd place in Portfolio Lens Culture International Exposure Awards, 2012. Matilde was also associated in the making of Uzbekistan, 10 years after independence, Tranchida Editore, Milan, 2002 with renowned journalist Ahmed Rashid. A similar endeavour with Cartiere del Garda produced A better time in 2008.
Whether, it is in The Swallows of Syria or in The Devil in Me, the plight of women feature prominently in many of Matilde Gattoni’s visual narratives. Similarly, their victories also receive due attention as could be seen through her photographic essay on Elham Al Qasim, the first woman from UAE to reach North Pole. Over a period of time she also diversified and set out exploring a wide range of topics from architectural marvels, posh interiors to high octane sports like Formula One but always with a humane touch. Read the full interview with Matilde Gattoni to learn more about her and her work as she is busy in ‘catching’ the ‘transient hour’.
Michelle Dunaway was born in Alaska where she spent many of her nights watching the fascinating colours of the night sky created by the northern lights. She moved to New Mexico in her teens and was greeted by the enchanting beauty of the land. But the enigma that captivated her most since her childhood was the expressions, often ephemeral in nature, on the faces of human being. As her fondness for painting grew with time, she actively engaged her brushes in tracing the obscure language of human sentiments being expressed through the whole body. In the process she took training in the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California; earned awards and recognition including an Award of Exceptional Merit from Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition, 2010; involved herself in teaching at California Art Institute, Westlake Village and at Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art; and established herself as a premier visual chronicler of life. Her portraits and figurative paintings, ‘Remembering Home’, ‘Strength and Grace’ or ‘Poetry’ aptly depict what has long been suspected, that, ‘Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.’