Hello, Gilberto! Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become a photographer?
Originally I come from the theatre and opera scene, where for many years I designed sets and costumes for numerous productions in Germany and abroad. I am a half Italian and a half Polish. I was born in Warsaw, where I spent my first years of life and then grew between Italy and Germany with my mother, an international opera singer, practically in the theatre backstage in the theater. This is how my fascination for
theater and opera came about, which awakened in me the desire to become artistically active in this world as well. This, together with my passion and predisposition for fine arts, later led me to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, where I graduated in Stage Design and Art History. There followed many years during which I worked as a set and costume designer. In this time I also painted and illustrated, and showed my work occasionally in various exhibitions. Around the year 2000 computer graphics entered my professional life and since then I have also worked as a graphic designer illustrator in advertising and publishing. About 7-8 years ago I approached photography - almost by accident - but first in front of the camera. Being the curious person that I am, I was attracted to working to this for me new perspective. During this time I collaborated with many different photographers and gain a lot of experience in this field. But then the visual artist in me got the desire to work behind the camera myself and add photography to my means of artistic expression.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the nude genre?
I have always been fascinated by the human being and it has always been the main subject in my art - whether as a stage character in a space created by me, or in my paintings and illustrations as portrait or nude. Therefore, it was natural for me to want to devote myself in photography to the human being as well and to express what makes him who he is - body and soul.
The emotions and states of the characters are well traced in your works. How do you achieve this? Do you discuss with models what you expect from them? Do you help them somehow get into the right emotional state?
Yes, I want to portray feelings and emotional states trough authentic expressiveness. This is not always easy in a photo shoot, of course, but that's why it's important for me to dedicate much time to it. Such a photo session is for me a very intense and very intimate moment of observation and revelation between me, the photographer and the person in front of my camera, independently of whether it is a portrait or a nude shooting. That is why it is so important to me to create a pleasant atmosphere of trust, a safe space for the photographed in which he can freely give himself to his emotions. Obviously, I talk to the model
before to explain him my way of working and my artistic intentions, but what is more important to me is to capture as much of him as possible to let me be inspire. I would also like to say that I often prefer to work with people in front of the camera who have less experience in this field, because they are more "virginal", so to speak, and know less about their external impact, which is more beneficial to authenticity. I normally go into a shoot with an idea of what I would like to represent, to portray, but depending on the circumstances and the vibes, I like to be inspired on the fly. I may try to stimulate a certain mood, for example through conversations or/and appropriate music, but I don't want to force anything, because that would be against everything I intend to show in my photographic work. Even if a picture is staged in its composition, the emotions, feelings and sensations should be authentic and true.
Your interest is aimed at expressing through portrait and nude photography – especially male nudity - many different emotions of the soul. Why male nature? In your opinion, is the female image more difficult to convey emotions?
In my paintings and illustrations I have also always portrayed women, but in my current photographic works - or photo visions - as I like to call them, I almost exclusively show nude men. This, of course, stems from the fact that I am personally more attracted to men, but also that as a man, some emotional processes are perhaps more accessible to me. Also, most of the time men are less concerned with a perfect look than women. As an aesthetician, I am also not averse to a beautiful appearance, but to focus on the view into the soul it’s more important for me. However, I do not abstain from portraying nude women in the future and presenting their souls as well. In my portrait photography I already do it.
Is there any message in your works? What thoughts should they evoke in the viewer’s mind? What is the Gilberto Giardini photographer trying to tell us in his works?
I think I have almost answered this already before when I told what I am interested in to represent in my photographic work. I have my roots in two cultures - Polish and Italian - both of which are quite comfortable with their emotionality. So am I and I believe that to live feelings and express them is something very important. There is nothing that connects us or separates us more than feelings. We are living in a time
where people talk more about feelings, but they are not necessary living or showing them more. The opposite is the case - we are too busy with our image and neglect to deal honestly with our inner life. We think that if we don't show our feelings we are untouchable, but this only makes us unapproachable and detached. We often prefer to repress, because feelings and emotions are of course not always pleasant, but they make us who we are. The more we get to know, accept and understand our soul life, with all its beautiful and less beautiful facets, the closer we can also get to our fellow human beings.
Perhaps this is in essence the message in my pictures, to look more inward - both in themselves and in others and thus develop more comprehension and empathy for each other.
Do you ever have emotional burnout? How do you handle it? How do you overcome crises?
I don't know if you can call this emotional burnout, but I have had very difficult periods in my life that I have had to face and that have taken me to my limits emotionally.
However, my continuous introspection and analysis of my emotions and the knowledge I have gained about my deep inner self has given me a strength that helps me not to be completely overwhelmed by crises and to look forward with courage and confidence. Because the more you know yourself, the stronger you are, in my opinion.
Tell us about the creative plans in the future?
Artistically, my focus is currently entirely on portrait and nude photography, or perhaps I should say portraits and naked portraits, because these are essentially my nudes. In recent years I have already been very active and productive in this field and had the opportunity to portray numerous inspiring people and interesting men. So this is what I would like to continue to do in the near future and working on some more
series that I have in mind. I also feel the desire to revive my painting after a break of many years and maybe combine it with the photography - we will see. And of course I would be happy if I could introduce my photo visions to even, more people through further exhibitions and publications.
Text Lyubov Melnickowa @lumenicka