AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF THE BEST KNOWN SICILIAN PHOTOGRAPHER
“Life is a never-ending adventure”, it was one of the first phrases Giovanni Ruggeri said to me in Piazza Del Duomo, in Catania, Sicily, where we met for an interview. Ruggeri, a famous Sicilian photographer and, without a doubt, the best known photographer in his town, Catania, shares with Nietzsche the idea of eternal return. “Everything repeats in nature. I am always moving ahead, but I can’t said I arrived”. This philosophy of life says a lot about this Italian artist and describe his approach to work that is deep, instinctive and accurate.
Giovanni is modest and rather taciturn, he says only the essential. Why? “I don’t like discovering myself. I like to be discovered by others”. As photographer he is inspired by nature, people’s souls and, of course, by his magic island: Sicily. The majority of his artistic production is figurative and represents rich landscape perspectives with warm colours typical of the Mediterranean nature. His portraits are rough, intense and touching, presenting timeless beauty of the photographed, the strength of women or astonished expressions of children or deep look of the elderly. His photographic art is strongly Sicilian.
Now the “Soul artist”, as I’d call him, is moving his Studio that will be in Monfalcone street. By this time, in the old one in Tomaselli street, he held his most important exhibitions, such as Texture Sicily, Terra Raccolta [Land Harvesting], Vite da pescatore [Fisherman Lives] in which Ruggieri snatched moments and expressions that characterize the communities of Lampedusa, Corleone, Messina and many others. The photographer often works in Rome and Florence. He recently started to appear in London and soon will work in Paris. One thing is sure, Ruggeri’s works are real pieces of art.
You grew up in a family of photographers. How did you feel working with your father? What was his professional advice that you considered essential for your current career?
Working with my father gave me not only professional lessons but also moral (where art is nourished). An essential advice? The framing language. This is most important for me.
You are a curious and sensitive man who, in photographic art, talks with microcosms of nature such as feathers, leaves, etc. How do you see these details? What do they represent for you?
I see nature as the life cycle where everything is created, nothing is lost or destroyed, all is in a continuous transformation.
You make impressive portraits, very intimate, personal. How do you establish a relation with the object being photographed? Do you have your methods?
My history today marks my present. Photography is not something that is done with the camera but with my head. Making a photo for me is observing and connecting with the world. I love the portrait because you never stop learning about the human race and each individual is a real discovery for me.
You are a photographer well known in your city and in Sicily. You have exhibited in Rome, Florence, London, Holland and soon in Paris. You have also worked in Spain and the United States. Can you tell us about each of these experiences?
There is not much to tell. I just worked and exhibited my works at some of my clients’ homes: entertainment entrepreneurs and show business men.
Can you imagine life outside Catania/Sicily, for example in Paris? What does mean the “Sicilianity”?
For me, so called Sicilianity is a feature that is part of me and is revealed through my images. I do not do anything to hide it, I am Sicilian. My life outside Catania? Yes, I can imagine it. It is my desire to leave here but even if I leave my island, one would easily understand where I am from.
Your photographs have been exhibited in many public spaces (Catania Airport) and in various exhibitions. Which of these shows has moved you the most?
Thanks to one of my exhibitions in Milan, I got to know my friend photographer Rino Carraro, who has shared experience and wisdom with me. In my work, the comparisons have enriched my knowledge.
What is your technique? Do you feel fulfilled as artist?
My technique vibrates like the strings of my soul. An artist is never satisfied, is always in constant search.
You’re moving your work place from the Salvatore Tomasello to Monfalcone/Pola street. How will your new studio be and what new initiatives are you planning?
The idea of having a new place will make you to observe the photographic art in a new vein. That is all I can say for now.
MORE ABOUT GIOVANNI RUGGERI AT www.giovanniruggeri.com