Giovanni Gastel’s first encounter with photography took place in the 1970s. At that time, photography was considered a legitimate art form and discipline and started to be collected and shown in the world’s museums and galleries. Fashion photography, however, was still considered “practical” and had not garnered much recognition in the world of art. With time, fashion photography gained its artistic status. Fashion photographic images were made in a myriad of contexts and, thus, began to define the photographic canon and grace various art spaces. Gastel’s artistic consecration took place in 1997 when the Triennale di Milano held an exhibition of his works, curated by the contemporary art historian, Germano Celant.
Giovanni Gastel does not believe in the unification of the arts, but describes his photographic work metaphorically, in terms of theatre and literature, emphasising the importance of “creating a scene” and “telling a story” with an image. He also paints the analogy of poetry to photography, which, he posits, consists not of the lyricism of an image but of the succinct and concise structure of form.
“What fascinates me about photography is that it has no relation to reality,” – says Gastel. – “It is the interruption of the constant flow of time. From eternal movement, life, to eternal immobility. It alludes to the real to create a real parallel.”
For Gastel, poems and photographs are a bit like dreams. They carry many meanings and can develop by themselves, without an author, just as the image or subject of a photograph makes itself known on the paper’s surface as it develops. The Metamorphoses series refers to Franz Kafka’s text and therein, yields Gastel’s explicit surrealistic understanding of photography. Viewers of his work can find visual references to the artists who preceded him and were considered surrealists such as Man Ray, Irvin Penn, Erwin Blumenfeld and Guy Burden.
Gastel uses various methods and techniques in his artistic practice, spanning many eras, from the Renaissance to Pop Art. He is aware of the illusiveness of fashion photography and continually reinvents the visual canon by offering viewers different perspectives of the idea of beauty and the ways it’s represented in. His methodology also makes reference to the cinematic experience. In the Ritratti di Living series, commissioned by Elle Decor in 2013, Gastel reproduced Edward Hopper’s works and played with that illusive nature, once again, making viewers of the work mistrust their own eyes.
Gastel works with large format analog cameras to contemporary digital devices. He uses various methods of analog photography such as pictorial rielaboration, decoupling and stratification, and when working with digital images, gives particular attention to post production. Unlike many others seasoned photographers, Gastel considers the invention of digital photographic technology to be the real birth of the medium, suggesting that everything until that point was a “mere archeology.”
Giovanni Gastel (b. 1955) | based in Milan (Italy) | fashion photographer | introduced to the world of art by his famous uncle, Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti | started with wedding and portrait photography, small still-lives and occasionally kids’ fashion photo sessions (the 1970s) | since then, worked for Christie’s Auction House (since 1975) and with Carla Ghiglieri, as his agent who introduced him to the world of fashion (1981) | his photographs have been published by such outlets as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, Donna, Mondo Uomo Glamour, Femme, Amica and Sette, among others, and exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world.
Giovanni Gastel – CANONS OF BEAUTY
@ The Lumière Brothers Centre for Photography (3 Bolotnaya emb, bld. 1, Moscow, Russia)
Opening reception: March 15 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public between March 16 and May 9, 2017