Life
Project info

Life is a photographic project of Raffaele Montepaone, a young artist from Vibo Valentia, who can already boast of national acknowledgement. Life started 2007, the first shots were made at Stilo, a remote little town in the province of Reggio di Calabria. It was there that Raffaele embarked on his research which is still going on. His first portrait was that of signora Concetta, an absolute symbol of the popular tradition at Stilo. It was that shot, which deserved to be selected for the exposition within the framework of expo art, as part of Affordable Art Fair held in Milan, where Raffaele deserved the appraisal of the Milan critics and became second best among the young artists. Faces and hands, wrinkled by the time and hard work, is the motif, that fascintates the artist. Raffaele travels to little Calabrian villages with his Nikon, and creats exciting images, registering customs and traditions of a hundred year-old Calabrians. Man and the earth, which is in the man’s wrinkles, are in the centre of his project. He does not register routine rural life, but creates personal portraits, in which the life lived and ordeals gone through emerge. His images are capable of evoking the memories of reality of those days. In his shots, Raffaele strives to capture a memory of the Calabria which is disappearing, because the ‘new olds’ will not be anything like those whose photographical portaits he makes. The novelty of what he is doing, compared to those who have already taken this route, is that Raffaele does not limit himself to the mere imaging of old people in Calabrian villages, but manages to extract from their hands, their faces, and their worn-down objects all the pathos of a life lived in hard work and suffering and the reasons why the life of people of Calabria in the last century was filled with dignity. The world, which Raffaele shows through his works is challenging and romantic at the same time. He shows people who live simple lives in places where time stood still, far away from big cities, and whose pace of life is only determined by nature. The powerful symbolism present in almost all his works, has a great impact potential. The lives of his old ladies, many of whom are widows, are rooted in the fields and prayers. In his shots, he never fails to notice a wedding ring on the finger, the symbol of the faith to those who are not here any more, but who are still respected. Nor does he fail to see multiple images of the saints, hangning in their modest homes, which often consist of only one room, but are maintained as palaces. Women with wrinkled and tired faces, who are getting ready to start their day in the field, with their simple rituals and habitual dedication, make their grey hair into elegant chignons,or in complicated plaits and posture in front of the camera, which catches every detail of a life completely devoted to earth. Old ladies who finish their days, holding a rosary in their hands, which is also worn by the time, and which they hold tightly in their hands sharing their hopes in life with it. A new image of rural Calabria – very personal and elegant, full of contrast, shades and nuances, like the lives which these a hundred year-old Calabrians have lived. Life, this is Raffaele Montepaone’s project.