Interview: Roberto Colombo
Luca Curci talks with Roberto Colombo during VISIONS, third appointment of the ANIMA MUNDI 2022, at Palazzo Bembo.
I completed classical studies, but in the end, I got a degree in Chemical and Pharmaceutical sciences. Since adolescence, I engage in painting and music. In the middle of 70s, I discovered photography. In the 1980s, work and family reduced photographic activity almost to zero. I resumed photography in 2007 following a trip to Israel and USA. I think Photography is not only a search for beauty in the hidden folds of man, society and nature. It is a way of telling our life, our emotions, our beliefs and ourselves. It is experimentation also. My “Creative Projects” are an attempt at photographic abstraction. An attempt to return images to the essential factors: light and colour as generators of emotions and, sometimes, imaginary shapes. A few years ago, I decided to get back to bringing my works to national and international events, obtaining to be present with images, Awards and Honorable mentions in over 25 countries. Mid-March 2022 the International Federation of Photographic Art awarded me the FIAP Artist’s honor.
Luca Curci – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
Roberto Colombo – Today we are inundated with images. Statistics 2021 say that every day 50 billion images are uploaded to Instagram. The images are generally scrolled and the average image viewing time is less than 1 second. As the famous Italian photographer, Ferdinando Scianna says it is like crossing a station on a running train. You can see a person on the dock but you can’t answer the question “what colour their eyes are?”. So nowadays a single nice image, both esthetically and technically, it does not make sense for an artist. Even my cat walking on the keyboard of my cell phone, after a million steps, may accidentally take a very nice photo. I do believe the difference is made by the project behind shots and the coherence of the images with it. At the end avoiding social media… I print them.
LC – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
RC – Both. There is no clear border between the two modalities. As I said previously, I try to work on projects. However, they always originate from something that intrigues me. It can be a concept, a thought of mine, a landscape, or interesting people I met. Observation and curiosity are key. To Palazzo Bembo, for instance, I exhibited a few abstract images from “The Journey” and, in this project, there is something more than the simple shooting: the technical challenge for the colourless system set up.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
RC – Do it in a different and interesting way. We are overloaded by images. Whatever you do has already been done and seen. You should find your own way. Your shooting must have your imprinting. It is a long process that takes time and effort, but it makes difference.
LC – How is your creative process?
RC – First I need a spark. Something that intrigues me. It could be anything. A concept, a social issue, a set of colours, details that I observe among the people walking at the airport, some people I meet, or a physical process like a light that generates something fascinating… In short, something about which I think I have something to say or to tell. I check quickly what has been already done on this subject. Therefore, on paper, I try to better define the structure, the flow, the strength and the weak point of the project. Finally, I choose three keywords that define it. I keep them in my mind while shooting. These three keywords will be the guide even at the end of assembling the final portfolio.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
RC – In the beginning, I started as a painter. I shifted to Photography at the end of the 70’ However, I have to say that, as you can see from the images I exhibit to Anima Mundi, even nowadays, I still keep a painter imprinting. I can divide my photography into two main branches; Research and creative projects on one side and a more traditional photographic approach like storytelling, portraits, and still life… on the other.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
RC – What I exhibit here to Vision of Anima Mundi are images taken from a broader project of conceptual and technical research: “The Journey”. From the moment I saw the first shot I associated these images, simply generated by the energy of light, with the flow of universal energy and to human emotions. Like a dream capable to translate you into a psychic world constantly in evolution. Almost a paraphrase of the flow of lives with their hidden energies in a kaleidoscope of emotions.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
RC – The rationale of this work has three main points. 1. Explore an intermediate field, the abstract. Photography since the mid-19th century overlapped the painting. Daguerre himself was a painter. Then time, painting and photography slowly found their own way, but the abstract still has a foggy border. Today many abstract photos are the result of important postproduction. I want to avoid it. My project is an attempt to abstract without manipulating images. 2. Back to the origin. My goal is to get back the original meaning of the word “Photos Grafeo”. (Light writing). Light is the protagonist. The light draws colours and shapes on transparent and colourless surfaces, generating imaginary “worlds “of energy. 3. Innovative technique. I am a chemist and for several years, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to do this. The colours are generated by the flash/lamp light across a colorless transparent liquid film stretched vertically on a metal structure. The liquid film is made by mixing water, sugar and thickener. I do not add any filters, pigments or colors and I do not use any artificial effects in post-production. Pictures are what the camera sensor records. I can try to modify shapes and color effects by adding small quantities of always colourless alcohol, glycerin, surfactant … and so on, but the light decides where and how to do it.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID Group can represent an opportunity for artists?
RC – Yes! ITSLIQUID Group is a great platform for artists to present their art. Thanks to ITSLIQUID Group, I could reach a wide audience both on the web as well as in prestigious venues. It is a good way to meet and connect with other international artists and with the public worldwide.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
RC – I appreciate the professionality of the whole team. Everything runs smoothly and easily. Palazzo Bembo in Venice is a prestigious location. It was my first experience with you very positive.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
RC – ITSLIQUID is a communication platform for contemporary art performing for almost 20 years and I had a very positive experience cooperating with them. Its number and locations are impressive. I have seen some other platforms trying to copy them. They are chasing ITSLIQUID. It means ITSLIQUID works and performs very well. I trust it