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Related articles: MeetMe#35 | Photo LA 2020/Part. II - MeetMe#27 | Photo L.A. 2020/Part. I - Delving Into Fine Art Photography

Dear Giorgio, in 2017 with Gianna Scroppo you opened a precious gallery near Turin, in the city of Chieri - Fine Art Images Gallery. You are a photographer and you decided to focus on this medium in all its potential. How did the idea of a gallery adventure come about?

It all started in 1980 when I was given the book Dentro le caseby Berengo Gardin as a gift, I was fascinated to see how photography could communicate and document daily life and events. Forty years have passed and still today I never leave home without a camera, my archive counts thousands of images, and the books have become hundreds, all related to humanistic and documentary photography.

Our collection counts about a hundred photographs from the early 1900s up to today, all strictly black and white and mostly analog.

In 2017, after attending fairs and exhibitions for years, we realized that the time had come to open our own gallery. The aim was to spread photography both by the big names and unknown photographers, linked together by the same vision that for us is absolutely essential: to be faithful to the term photography, which derives from the Greek φῶς, light and γραϕία, graphia, that is "writing with light".

Over the years we have witnessed the evolution of digital, today this technology is able to create prints of even higher quality than analog photographs.

We have nothing against digital, which uses light to sensitize a sensor instead of a film, but it is in the final step that the term photography is distorted, what comes out of a printer is not photography, the light component is missing, there is no creative/craft intervention of the man/artist, it is a machine that creates the print so it should be called printgraphy.

 

You emphasize the importance of selecting your photographers both for the aesthetics of their work and the great attention to details that these artists have towards their medium. Is this careful use of photography the reason why your gallery has an expertise in ancient printmaking techniques? What are these techniques?

Our motto is "only if it comes out of a basin is photography". To this, it should be added that we only select black and white photography. The techniques range from albumen to ambrotypes via silver salts to platinum-palladium and beyond, such as the Van-Dike technique and wet collodion, gum bichromate, etc..

 

Fine-art images Gallery. Courtesy Fine-art images Gallery.

 

Fine-art images Gallery deals with photographers of different generations and that tell various topics - from everyday life to landscapes, from war to nudes -. How do you choose the photographers to represent?

It’s a million-dollar question!!! I would change it to How do you choose the photographs to represent? We don't choose photographers but their shots, we don't care if they have already had exhibitions or how long their resumes are, we want to get excited when we look at their photos.

At the MIA Photo Fair 2019, on the first day of the fair after less than fifteen minutes, a collector passed in front of our stand and saw a shot printed in platinum palladium of a landscape on Japanese paper at 17 grams per square meter, he didn't ask who the author was or the price, he wanted it right away. This is our philosophy, exciting people.

If we are interested in the photographer whose shoots are digital, we create the negatives on film or plate from the original file via a device called Filmrecorder.

At this point we are not even halfway through the selection, now quality comes into play! We ask the photographer for the highest quality printing system, type of paper, preservative baths, the passpartout and the frame, which must be strictly handmade.

Finally, we move on to the print run of the work, which must not exceed seven copies, although we prefer series of three or even a single copy.

At this point, if all the requirements listed above are met, we can start working with the photographer. We know we are asking a lot from our photographers, but we are convinced that this is the right way to do it. The collector is willing to spend but in return he wants the best that a gallery can offer him, but above all he wants to be sure about the seriousness of the artist and the gallery owner.

 

Your last exhibition was a solo show with Enrico Minasso, titled "Mutations", was that the last time you opened a show to the public? How did the exhibition go?

In mid-March 2020 at the same time as the MIA Photo Fair, the exhibition "Paris from the early twentieth century to the present day" was to begin but was cancelled due to the pandemic.

"Mutations", concluded in mid-January, was the last exhibition open to the public, an incredible experience! When you think you've seen it all in photography, you discover that Enrico Minasso's shots twist the meaning of "stopping time." 

The exhibition consisted in some shots dating back to 2005 of a studios shooting in which some shots are taken with Polaroid-55 positive/negative film. The negative is not subjected to the fixing bath and the "MUTATION" begins. Over the years, the film transforms under the natural chemical action, continuously changing the appearance of the image.

Can we therefore still think of photograph as a medium stopping time and making the figure become eternal?
Each series is composed by three elements:

1. A Polaroid positive taken in 2005 (4 "x5")
2. A first print 18x24 cm made in 2010
3. A second print 30x40 cm made in 2015

Each print is therefore unique and unrepeatable, as every single series of these images is.

In addition to the Mutazioniseries, the exhibition also included black and white silver salt photographs from the "Il'aria" series, nudes created outdoors made with a pinhole camera. The result obtained with pinhole photography is a dreamlike image, in which the forms have contours that are never well defined, imperfect, and it is precisely this characteristic that gives it a high value.

 

Fine-art images Gallery. Courtesy Fine-art images Gallery.

 

How does the Photographic Market differ from the Contemporary art Market?

They are two markets that are apparently the same but in my opinion completely different.

As far as the Italian market is concerned, the gap is considerable, just think about the number of fairs dedicated to photography and those dedicated to contemporary art. Abroad, photography has reached an importance equal to any other art medium, both for the amount of money that collectors pay for a photographic work and for the number of fairs and auctions dedicated to it.

Photography has the potential to grow in Italy, but first, we need to create the culture of photography and then the culture of photography as an artistic form.

Let me explain better: if I go to see an exhibition of an artist of any artistic current, I go to see an art exhibition, if instead I go to see an exhibition of a photographer, I go to see a photo show. There is a clear distinction between the two!

The "photography" market is more flourishing than ever, just look at the sales figures of the biggest auction houses that sell "photography", we are talking about millions of euros.

In Italy, the galleries dealing exclusively with photography can be counted on the fingers of a hand, most of them are contemporary art galleries that have opened to contemporary photography and not to "photography", applying all the rules of the "Art System". Gallery owners must sell the work not the artist-persona, photography should not be interpreted as contemporary art, photography is immediate! Either you like it, or you don't.

Ansel Adams said, "photography is like a joke: if you have to explain it, it doesn't come out right."

Ps. At the last Sotheby's New York auction, Ansel Adams' The Grand Tetons and the Snake Riverwas sold for $988,000, a photography auction that ended with a total of $6.4 million and a 94% sell-through rate.

During fairs, people who decide to buy their first work, do it for pure aesthetic pleasure and a good gallery owner must know how to exalt the beauty of the work, the technique used and the care with which it is presented and not extol the artist's vision, this, most of the time is not even asked by the buyer.

Among the many e-mails that we receive in the gallery I have read maybe a couple of times "I am an artist", almost all of them define themselves as photographers or Fine-Art photographers. Many of them have a website where they show and explain their work, with a price list, a list of the exhibitions they have done, the awards they have won or the more or less famous competitions they have participated in. They come to the gallery to propose their work but when you ask them based on what criteria they opt for a type of print run or how they determined the price of their work, they answer that they have compared it with the work of other photographers, without even knowing the work of others.

There is still a lot to be done in Italy if we want photography to be considered art or perhaps, it is better that this distinction is not bridged. 

Ps. This is our humble thought and does not want to question the thought of others.

 

We've talked about how art fairs are helpful for your gallery to share your artists outside of it. Have you had a chance to improve the dialogue with your collectors in other ways during this past year? 

In our opinion, in order to differenciate from others, to make choices that exclude a large portion of the market that has economic level these days can be vital to the life of a gallery is not being brave, but forward thinking.

Platforms such as Kooness have helped us a lot to maintain a presence in the market in this last year, they will certainly be crucial in the future to be able to reach new buyers and to improve the relationship with our clients.

 

 

Fine-art images Gallery. Courtesy Fine-art images Gallery.

 

Discover more about Fine-art images Gallery on Kooness.

Cover image: Fine-art images Gallery. Courtesy Fine-art images Gallery.

Written by Rossella Farinotti

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the artworld.

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