Luca Grasselli's artistic career is made more of subtractions than of acquisitions.
Originally from the province of Emilia, born in 1967, Luca Grasselli began taking photographs as a child with a legendary Kodak 44 Instamatic, early experiments and years of research and study that allowed him to soon take the professional path in the fashion and advertising sectors. A technical and experience essential, but not able to calm an inner ferment.
Having reunited with every cultural certainty built up until then zeroed, after some experiences in the pacifist and international volunteering movements, the confrontation with an uncompromising human reality pushes him to invent again his expressive research, leading him inexorably to abstract reality into a new vision .
Luca Grasselli sets up a dialogue at a distance with his subjects, appropriating the lives of others to complete his own. The photos show us a moment of transit between a before and an after that the author reinvents and makes his own.
The author's gaze is in love with photography, his instinctive visions translate into a spontaneous poetic, not shouted but whispered images, caught not with the eyes and the mind, but with the eyes and the heart.
It was the spring of 1985 when I decided to make that phone call.
In the days before I had looked for the numbers of some studies of photography and that of Claudio Zavaroni appeared to me accessible.
I was little more than a boy, to his questions, in our first meeting, I replied mostly improvising ... I knew how to "unwind" the films or how to set up a set! He certainly could not have paid me, but in the end he agreed to take me as an assistant ... in truth I would have been only the assistant's substitute!
Load of enthusiasm I arrived at the studio on my wasp, the same one that, a few days later, I would have used to "distract" the models while waiting for their photo shoot to be ready; the assistant did that too.
Those few months spent at the side of a professional quickly made me grow in technique and in that capacity, which I still consider a fundamental talent for the photographer, namely: to seize the moment.
Beyond the focus, exposure, framing; to capture the right moment, to perceive the moment before it has followed, this, in a definition, summarizes all merit.
Unfortunately, once the initial enthusiasm was exhausted, I did not find, in that professional fashion made of fashion, glamor and advertising, that creative transport and the inner ferment that I had nurtured in my education, enhanced by historical French magazines and of devotion to the authors of the Magnum.
Therefore after the tragic end of Claudio Zavaroni, which took place in the dramatic events of Heysel, I did not try to stay in that tour, to which I had so much aspired, and I began to think that perhaps my expressive restlessness would have found greater confirmation in the form of the photographic reportage.
Shortly thereafter, I was overwhelmed by the political and social experience of conscientious objection to military service, I was totally invested in it, taken by the pacifist ideals I felt innate in me and just waiting to be expressed. They were intense years of demonstrations, non-violent sit-ins and struggles for the recognition of civil rights.
These were the years of apartheid, of the referendum on nuclear power, of the first evidence on the unsustainability of exploitation towards the southern countries of the world, of conflicts fueled by the arms trade. The Soviet bloc was on the verge of collapse overwhelmed by the hopes of Perestroika.
And so, in bursts, following an instinct that increasingly took precedence over reason, followed the human chains, the sit-ins: stripping us in front of military bases and chains to nuclear power stations, the tax objection to military spending, the boycott to the banks that financed the South African regime, and again, on the Greenpeace boats, the humanitarian corridors towards the first migratory flows, volunteering in Africa.
And then the reports in Madagascar, Russia, Korea, the Vanuatu Islands ... then in November 89, the news now in the air for a few days: the collapse of the wall in Berlin. With other photographer friends, we immediately decided to leave for East Germany and we were immediately overwhelmed by that whirlwind of hope, joy and madness that swept Berlin in those days, we looked for any tool to knock down, physically a wall, but in everyone's heart us a symbol of an atrocity conceived by human delirium.
For us, this was also the time when the desire to tell was transformed into the LUCERNA FILM association, to collect, publish and spread our chronicles.
Despite that total commitment, that inner spasm, that discomfort and the pressure that always accompanied me was still unable to express itself. It took many more years of confrontation and study with other contemporary and classical artists to get closer to understanding my expressive space.
Certainly, however, it had already been formed through that whirlwind of experiences, another substantial component in my way of capturing time, it had now outlined the "vision" of my photographic character.
I found again in the images that I shot almost automatically, those kind ways already seen in the works of Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis, I was morbidly attracted by seizing, stealing, almost tearing away, fragments of life of my subjects. It was a bit like entering a physical, intimate contact with the subject I could steal the soul and the strength that didn't belong to me.
So every moment became a relationship, a story, that instant magically carved on celluloid by light, it no longer remained a two-dimensional trait but was part of me, forever.
From authors like Sebastiao Salgado or Gianni Bordengo Gardin I learned the documentary and evocative value of photographic expression, others like Donal Moleney or Helmut Newton's have transmitted me the form and technique of this communication. Their influences were determined to get closer to what resided within me; but it is from cinema that the stimulus to artistic maturity and definitive awareness has arrived.
"Der Himmel über Berlin" from Wim Wenders' 87 was a shocking experience for me, "The Double Vie de Véronique" by Krzysztof Kieślowski's 91, and then the discovery of authors such as Pedro Almodóvar and François Ozon.
Understand from their work that my photography could be really narrative, the shot was only the epilogue, the synthesis, the provocation to extract a story, a lived experience, a way to extend time and make us immortal.
Finally the encounter with what for me is the sublime work of Anders Petersen and Jürgen Baldiga, the true genius, the accompaniment towards a new point of view; the new visual experience, what manages to move the mind, to open it towards a new possible interpretation. The archetype that manages to make the new "vision" perceptible and tangible, the modeling of an unknown, attractive and inevitable thought, a transport between dreamlike sensations and oblivion.
with editions LUCERNAFILM:
Le voci di Ampandratokana-1991
with editions EDICTA:
Riflessi Incondizionati 2003
Incerto Movimento 2007
with editions ILMIOLIBRO:
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