American debut of Italian photographer
at the Grenning Gallery
Artist Ben Fenske
photo by Patrizia Genovesi
see the photos on this live link:
In this collection of images titled Painters, Italian photographer Patrizia Genovesi makes her American debut with an original approach to creative portraiture. She provides the viewer with a behind the scenes look into the intimate and personal world of an artist in their studio. Documenting five Grenning Gallery painters: Ben Fenske, Nelson H. White, Hege Elizabeth Haugen, Ramiro, and Melissa Franklin Sanchez, Genovesi’s photographs tell the unique story of each artist, their work, and their process. The Grenning Gallery has been dedicated to showcasing the work of classically trained artists for the past fourteen years and the new book Painters captures the people behind the paintings. By blurring the line between artist and art, Genovesi not only creates dramatic, narrative images but also relays her intended message, that “an artist is his work.” Selected photographs will be shown throughout the summer at the Grenning Gallery.
Describing the intention behind her work Genovesi explains how she, “aimed at obtaining pictures in which the painters would merge with their working environments into one, consistent, well-defined atmosphere.” Such is evident in the image of Ben Fenske, seated casually, cross-legged, in the kitchen that has been the setting of many of his paintings. Bright, Tuscan sunshine burst through the open door and finds the tops of Ben’s shoes, the side of his face, a chair cushion, a counter top; uniting artist with environment. Genovesi made a conscious effort to apply a similar color palette and light source, as used by each of the five artists, to their respective portraits. In the photograph of Fenske, for example, the powerful natural light bounces off the red slate floor, giving off a warm reflection that emanates throughout the space. The same is visible in Fenske’s works where careful attention is paid to warm vs. cool shadow as well as color bounce and value.
The photographs of Ramiro also capture the essence of the artist and therefore his work. Strong definitions between light and dark are characteristic of these images, giving them a powerful presence. Such is true with Ramiro’s paintings, where he utilizes chiaroscuro to heighten the drama and create an atmosphere. Emotionally driven poses are also common in Ramiro’s paintings and help to create a narrative. Genovesi links Ramiro with his work by photographing him in an array of poses, ranging from subtle intimate moments, like him preparing his palette, to very physical and dramatic gestures, as in the image of him sketching out his composition.
Shimmering and introspective, Genovesi’s images of Hege Elizabeth Haugen capture the artist’s magical energy, as seen in the self-portrait, “Pink”,the highlighted painting for Grenning Gallery’s “Best of the Best” show. This opens August 4th and hangs through August 26th. The mystical nature of Hege’s ethereal yet grounded figurative work is recreated by Genovesi’s images through the use of soft light and angelic poses. When depicting Melissa Franklin Sanchez, Genovesi cleverly pairs a photographic image with the Artist’s painted self-portrait, thus highlighting the achieved likeness. Both images, however, also capture the Sanchez’s youthfulness and innocence, therefore portraying her relatable and approachable nature. By emphasizing such characteristics, Genovesi allows the viewer to form an instant connection with the artist and her work. A very different connection is felt between the viewer and the images of Nelson H. White. Genovesi photographs this painter from a heroic perspective, looking up at him with a Hercules cast in the background, and then again in a large, off center close up. These prestigious images are successful in explaining White’s eminent stature among the artists and highlight his knowledge and experience after nearly sixty years of professional painting.
By carefully selecting subject matter, setting, color palette, lighting and composition, Genovesi created images that capture the interconnection between an artist and their work, and ultimately shed light on each of these artists’ processes and the way they see. With this series and many of her others, including her photographs of Noble Prize winners, Genovesi is making a name for herself in the world of contemporary photography and video art. As is evident with this collection of work, she is very interested in the synergies between art forms as well as technology and science. Genovesi has studied photography with Leonard Freed and Richard Kalvar of the Magnum Photos Agency among others.