Creating a journey into the shades of his production, Paolo Roversi exposes Studio Luce in full-circle, returning his gaze to the lands that inspired him as a boy
On October 10th Paolo Roversi – Studio Luce opens in Ravenna, an exhibition organized by MAR Ravenna Art Museum and sustained by contributions from Christian Dior Couture, Dauphin and Pirelli. Created as a celebration of Roversi’s talent by his native city, the exposition is the latest chapter in his history: once a boy fascinated by pictures, now one of the most prominent contemporary photographers. His love story with photography began at the age of 17 during a holiday in Spain, when his parents gave him a camera as a gift. Won over by the medium, he installed a darkroom in his cellar, thus developing images by himself. After studying under the wing of a local photographer, Roversi worked as a reporter with Associated Press, an international press agency, documenting the celebrations for Ezra Pound’s death in Venice.
Roversi’s eye was evolving, and he took upon any opportunity to grow: when Elle’s creative director Peter Knapp recommended him to move to Paris, the photographer packed for France’s capital. Here he crossed roads with fashion, the complement to his interest in portraits: he searched for an expert that could guide him and nurture his vision. After visiting giants like Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin, he settled for a short apprenticeship with Laurence Sackman, a master of black and white photography. At the end of this period Roversi fell in love with Polaroid 20×25, a celluloid that became his signature. His shooting style became focused on a spiritual register: his goal was to fix in print the very soul of the model. The time of exposition on each of his shots are longer than usual, ranging from a bunch of seconds to almost 30, and the flash is used to freeze the subject, separating it from the context. The colors are mostly tone-on-tone, privileging black and whites that merges one into another, a process extended to the dresses of the models, which fuse with the background.
Roversi’s photography is a research for the essential, interested in subtracting rather than accumulating, and conceived as a solo dialogue with the subject, seen as marble from which he can unearth a soul. The eye of the photographer establishes a visual maieutic, a dialogue with the model aimed to let her essence emerge from her surroundings, cutting out the inessential in search of her very existential core. Having forged his particular viewpoint, he collaborated with Romeo Gigli, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme Des Garçons, Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani, establishing his firm in the fashion world. Although working away from his hometown, in his studio sited in Rue Paul Fort 9 in Paris, the spark that animates his work comes from his youth in Emilia-Romagna: the exhibition organized in Ravenna is a way to go full-circle, returning his now developed gaze in the lands that inspired him as a boy. The photographs showcased in Paolo Roversi – Studio Luce, create a journey into all the shades of his production, ranging from fashion shots, portraits of friends like Robert Frank and Peter Lindbergh and still life of stools on the streets.
After visiting the past, the audience can also glimpse on never-before-seen materials, unused shots for Dior, Comme De Garçons and Vogue Italia, as well as his works for the 2020 Pirelli calendar and an homage to Dante Alighieri. Celebrating the legendary poet, Roversi shot some photos of iconic models Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Natalia Vodianova retelling in a modern way the figure of the muse. The exposition is curated by Chiara Bardelli Nonino, photo editor of Vogue Italia, with scenery from Jean-Hugues de Chatillon, previously working with Vogue, Aspesi and Ami. The two created a space capable to shroud the photos with intimacy and reflection. In order to valorize Roversi’s style, the spaces are dark, with lights pointed at the portraits and quotes from the photographer written on the walls. This environment is able to add value to the shots, further enhancing the viewer’s experience.IMAGE GALLERY