Interview & Art – LUIGI CLEMENTE

By Jason Michel

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I’ve been unlucky enough to know Luigi for a number of years now. He is an Italian, from Genova, living in London. His photography is something special. Decadent and, at times, has an everyday Surreality. It reminds me of listening to Madder Rose with him over a beer in London. He is a wry & miserable bugger, though.

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JM: Luigi, inspiration. Where in God’s Balls does it come from?

LC: From the nose.

JM: I’ve seen your nose and I have to say, it is inspirational. I’ve noticed that you use a lot of masks in your Portraits, what’s with that?

LC: Thanks for your question. Now I need to think, and you know I hate doing that. Masks. They don’t hide the identity. They reveal it. They create an identity where there is no identity. Our social avatar (the face we paint, the hair we cut, the body we shape) is not us. There is no us, to be precise. And this disturbing vacuum is revealed in all its inescapable horror when we wrap it in a solid, clear, coloured, definite structure: the mask. Like insects, like cicadas, we need an exoskeleton to move, laugh and sing and live, made of plastic, cardboard or simply sick imagination, as you prefer. Masks. I got one from my cousin.

JM: It is interesting that you mention that “there is no us”. This is an old idea, that goes back to Buddhist thought and modern neuroscience is showing us that it may in fact be true. What influences outside of photography have found their way into your particular art? By this I mean, books, other artists, music?
 
LC: Influences. In photography. A classic one, sorry for being so banal: Cartier-Bresson. I like the composition, the equilibrium of shapes and lines and focus points, the delicate tension, the irony. I like the photoshop artists, like Dragan. I like painting: Renaissance masters, like Raffaello. And for the portraits, may I dare to mention Rembrandt? His masterful way of handling light and darkness? Sharp details and softness? Music. There’s nothing more visual than music. I like dark, gloomy, gothic soft musical textures. Try Hope Sandoval, try Cranes. Dim the lights. Close your eyes. There’s no picture like that. Low saturation, diffused background, high contrast. if you want to smile, a slightly sad smile, listen to Paolo Conte. Books? I can’t read …

JM: Okay, last question … Luigi, how important is place for you? You are Italian, from Genova, yet you live in London. Why did you choose Deare Olde Londinium to live? Grazie tante! Ciao!

LC: The city is both a physical and a metaphysical space. A city is a background for your pictures, portraits or landscapes. It sets the mood and the rules. It gives you subjects: bridges or people. I was born in an old and dying city. Genova is dying of old age. You can walk in the alleys, and get a sense of history, of the past, but no sense of future. The present is confused, still, frozen in amber. People live awaiting. Godot is not coming yet. And when the wind is strong, the voice of the sea grows louder, and you forget where you are, who you are. I missed that sometimes. I missed my sea. I missed my dirty alleys, and small vineries. So I feel out of scale here in London, but then there is the metaphysical aspect. London offers me the gift of the long tail, a chance to socialise around an interest, whatever it is. In this case, photography. I chose London for this. It gave me, and probably will still give me (for a while, at least), the hope of being surprised.

And life without any surprises, what kind of life is it?

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Luigi’s magnificent work can be found: HERE!

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