Artist Interview - Renato Rampolla
You are most recently known for your intimate street portraits, your "Dignity" series. What happened?
The Introspection series started when the COVID lockdowns began. I was experiencing frustration, stress, and a lack of connection. In addition, I was displaced from my home due to water damage and lived in a rental house for several months while repairs were made. I, like many others during this time, was dealing with a lot of change and uncertainty. The streets were empty and I needed an outlet to express myself. This series allowed me to create in solitude where I was used to connecting face to face with strangers on the street. This project required that I quickly teach myself how to use Photoshop, something I had wanted to learn more about but had put off.
Introspection captures human emotion as an image: love, joy, pride, loneliness, anger, or belief in something bigger than ourselves. There’s a grit to the work. Urban graffiti, torn posters, backlit win-dows, walls, mark-making, anything with color and or texture is my form of abstract expression as a street photographer. I “paint” these layers over portraits or other figures I've captured while roaming
the streets. The process is a composite of my figurative street portraits combined with layers of more abstract street photography. The experience is like a performance on a two-dimensional surface. Flash-perceptions of reality interact with raw emotions.
After the deep monochrome of Dignity, this project is a real explosion of color.
The color palette is often primary colors: red, blue, yellow. Although it is unintentional in the moment of creation, perhaps it can be said there’s a distillation to primary emotions and to our interconnectedness to one another. This kind of image-making is not an intellectual process. but, rather, it is an intuitive expression of emotion. I leave most of my Introspection series untitled because it is left up to the viewers to bring their own emotional experiences to each image. Both Introspection and Dignity are about humanity, the human condition. In both series, I want the viewer to feel each subject's presence.
This is a great example of an artist's "process" and the creative state of mind. Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from the osmosis of past experiences. I was the child of an artist. My father was a New York artist who graduated from Art Student League and Cooper Union in NYC and Boston University. He taught at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. My experiences from youth placed me around great art and artists that have distinctively defined my work. This way of life was normal for me so it’s hard to separate it.
Inspiration comes from my travels, architecture, music, and, of course, a continual study of the Masters. My library collection of photography and art books is constantly expanding. I’ve been responsible for the estate of my father’s works for over a decade which allowed me access to museums and curators.
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