From Milan, Italy
Based in Milan, Rome, and Miami
Roberto Polillo's photos are characteristically "smudged". This is achieved thanks to a special technique he uses to capture the places he travels to and their "spiritus loci" - the feeling of a place that stays with you after you return home
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you into art?
R: My story is quite unusual for an artist: in my life I have been involved in two quite different things: photography and information technology. As a young man, for about a dozen years, I photographed most of the great jazz musicians active in the sixties and seventies, in concerts in Italy, France, and Switzerland. Then I left photography for many years, while working in the computer business as an entrepreneur and university professor. I came back to photography in the early 2000s, and now it is a full-time activity for me. I’m presently working on my old jazz archive and exploring new artistic languages in travel photography.
A: What inspires you the most?
R: I am a passionate traveler, in the last 20 years I have visited more than 25 countries and four continents, trying to represent with my photographs the "spirit" of the places that fascinate me. For this, I use a particular technique, called ICM (Intentional Camera Movement), which consists in moving the camera while shooting, with long exposure times. The resulting images are blurred, erasing the details from the scene. What the image shows is the "atmosphere" of the places, the "dream", what I call the "spiritus loci", what you keep in your mind when you return home from visiting the place.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working(creating)?
R: I travel a lot, in search of the locations that inspire me. But I am not a planner: often I find them by chance, without a predefined itinerary. I consider myself an explorer, and photograph them by instinct, always experiencing new ways of using the ICM language. My preferential destinations are in tropical places, especially South-East Asia, Central America and North Africa. But also European fascinating cities, like Venice.
A: What would you recommend to someone who's new to art (whether artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
R: I believe that everyone should approach art, even those whose profession deals with very different things, as happened to me, who have been involved in information technology for a large part of my life. Art allows you to have a different perspective on the world, and to live a more complete life. It can really change your perception of reality, and can connect you with your real self.
But "art" means many things, there are many different arts, and each of us should choose the one closest to his/her sensitivity, and approach it with patience and curiosity. I love music and all the visual arts, especially painting and photography.
A: Your three favorite adjectives related to art?
R: Dreamy, exciting, spiritual.
A: The best angle to look at art is from ...?
R: Your true self. But you have to discover it, and art can help you in this endeavor.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ...?
R: Art is not a business. Or is it?
A: Must-read books to help us talk about art (or do we even need them)?
R: The greatest artists perfectly represent the time in which they lived. Their work helps us to better understand their time. I believe that any book that connects artists to their times is very useful as a first approach to art. This is particularly important for modern and contemporary art, whose meaning may be misinterpreted. So I would recommend a good history of contemporary painting.
A: If you could change one thing in the art world - what would it be?
R: Helping young artists to make their work known. I’m presently working on this, with a non-profit initiative which will offer exhibition and presentation opportunity and spaces in Milano.
A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art).
R: "Always stay on the bridge between the visible and the invisible." (Paulo Coelho)