“Transporting into an abstract and timeless space..”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Carmela Rizzuti
Paul Zimmerman: How did you get interested in photography?
Carmela Rizzuti: When I was a child I liked to draw my favorite characters, so I discovered my love for art, so much so that I decided to experiment with painting at the Art School of my city. Halfway through my studies, at the age of 16, I discovered a passion for photography, so I decided to attend some specialization courses, in particular on portraiture, enrolling in a Conca D’Oro photographic circle for ten years.
PZ: You explore dreams, phantasy and human condition. What is these subjects important for you?
CR: Dreams and creativity help me to express what I feel and understand what is my relationship with the world and the history of art. I have a good relationship with nature, I am fascinated by everything that is beautiful and creative and this gives me a lot of energy to create and produce.
The self-timer is a way to express myself, my identity, my passions and my art. The self-portrait is for me a moment of research, understanding and externalization of a sensation, idea, inspiration and creativity. My works have an emblematic language where images seem frozen in time, immobile and ethereal. The lights are used masterfully, and the colors are perfectly enhanced. The central element of my work are flowers and feathers often used as a decorative form of my body but which also have a symbolic value, mimosa is linked to strength and femininity but is also used to express freedom, autonomy and sensitivity; The calla, symbol of beauty and perfection, is enhanced in a monochromatic way where the female figure shows two different aspects of the self; transformed by large white petals that act as a corolla like an evening dress, it represents the link with nature and the feminine, while the wind in a moment seems to be able to take everything away, symbol of the transience of beauty.
CR: What is your artistic process?
The artistic process consists of a number of phases not all necessary, which follow one another not always in the same order. Certainly, among these phases there is the one linked to the birth of the idea or to the manifestation of an intuition. Then there is the phase of the material transposition of the original idea, in which the means, techniques, and materials most suitable to “materialize” that particular idea are identified. Finally, there is the realization phase, in which the original idea comes to life within the chosen means of expression, which is then shaped and completed with postproduction.
To give stimulus to my work I look and observe everything that surrounds me, objects, exhibitions, magazines and everything that can give me the right input to realize what I need for creation. The next step is to create clothes or various elements that can adorn my body following a specific theme and style and using the help of Photoshop to give greater emphasis to colors and light.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
CR: When I start a new piece my goal is to be able to involve the people who look and observe my work, my aim is to immediately let the viewer enter the work, transporting him into an abstract and timeless space, completely new, in which the self-portrait no longer represents myself but a thousand different figures and emotions.
PZ: Has your practice changed over time?
CR: For many years photography was just a hobby, I studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo and then I specialized in restoring paintings on canvas and wood in Florence. Photography was just an alternative way to make art, at the beginning my technique was experimental very scholastic without identity, today I follow a style of my own, more creative and personal.
Today there is a reference to nature and the world of theater art, there are no breakthroughs or stages and the images are executed in self-timer; the props become apparitions and key symbols for reading and communication close to surrealism with references to magical realism that complete an original vision, In this way I can make the self-portraits unique and authentic “visual stories”.
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
CR: In photography I am inspired by some artists who show great creativity but at the same time we follow a very similar concept of life as well as the technical one. At this moment one of the artists I admire is the English photographer Kirsty Mitchell, she uses photography to give life to a fairytale world with very bright and lively colors, then there is the Bulgarian artist Mira Nedyalkova who makes surreal portraits of women underwater, with her I find myself in perfect symbiosis because we both abandoned painting to make self-timer images to express our emotions through photography while maintaining an almost pictorial rendering.
PZ: How would you define yourself as an artist?
CR: I define myself as a multifaceted artist because I move in different sectors, I deal with painting following the style of Hyperrealism, I am also a decorator and restorer of paintings and frescoes, in the past I was also a gallery owner where I organized events of painting and photography of modern and contemporary art but over time I preferred to return to my old path that of the artistto continue and mature on my stylistic research. Today I mainly deal with photography dividing myself between photographic art where I express my creative and personal inner side and professional photography.
PZ: What are you working on now?
CR: Right now, I’m working on a new photographic project to be presented at the XIV Florence Biennale in Florence, title of the exhibition I AM YOU, the theme is focused on the concepts of individual and collective identities, in their multiple philosophical, psychological, sociological and cultural meanings. On the one hand, the concept of identity can be associated with the characteristics that distinguish us from others as unique and unrepeatable individuals, onthe other, identity is linked to the need to belong to one or more groups (or communities) that helps to define the way we are perceived by ourselves and others. I find this theme very stimulating, and it is a way to compare myself with other artists.
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
CR: The pandemic has aroused in me new emotions that I had never felt, it has not stopped in me the desire to create and produce new works. Art for me has always been my refuge, my oxygen, my perfect world full of light and imagination where dreams can be realized.
PZ: What is your next project?
CR: My next project is to realize my personal exhibition inside the Galleria delle Vittorie, it was a place of historical and cultural importance in the heart of the historic center of Palermo, it was built in 1935 in the middle of the fascist period where artists and poets met among them there was the famous painter Guttuso, it was also an elite commercial space and then became a abandoned monument. My aim is to give new life to this space by exposing my works on banners suspended on iron beams on the ceiling in order to give originality and greater involvement to the viewer.