PDN Photo of the Day

Paolo Ventura’s Fragmented World

In his new series “Eclipse,” Paolo Ventura continues his exploration of memory, history and narrative using the tools of photography, painting and the stage. The series is on view in his first show at Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City, which runs until November 11. The series includes many of the same characters and types that have appeared in Ventura’s work for years—a clown, a soldier, a man in a sharp suit, a romantic couple, often played by a cast that includes Ventura himself, his twin brother, his son and his wife. The images are set in an eerily empty, urban landscape that recalls Europe in the 1940s, a time and place Ventura knew from stories his grandmother told about living in the Italian countryside during World War II. As in earlier series, the images in “Eclipse” present small narrative fragments—a boy uses a stick to hit a ball hung from a tree; a couple kisses; a soldier fires a rifle. But here, we seem to watch these actions from a greater distance—the protagonists are often dwarfed by the landscape around them, which is sometimes just the blue sea and sky or an expanse of grey. Ventura divides many of these images into grids, painting each section to create boxes with slight variations of tone. The result emphasizes the isolation of each character, and the fragmentation of their world. As the gallery writes, “The resulting tableaux engage each other in dialogue, but each exists as its own imaginative world.”

Related Stories:
Paolo Ventura’s Whimsical Adventures
Paolo Ventura: Winter Stories
Duo’s Digital Collages Explore Portraiture’s Possibilities (for PDN subscribers; login required)

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