Federico Imperiale – I was rapidly seduced by photography

Federico’s works have been published in our Street Photography 2021 book.

by Lina Elle Sea

The original language of this article is English. If you read it in another language, it means it is an automatic translation.

BAV Street Photography 2021

How did you select the photographs for Bruxelles Art View?

The photographs I submitted are part of my ongoing body of work Subveil, started in 2017, where I portray the Los Angeles subway as a surreal underworld to reveal latent visual facets of an everyday urban experience.

I selected the three images I consider more representative of the focal themes of the project. The man on the escalator embodies the shifting in identity between individual and character: due to the strong shadow completely hiding the lineament of his face, he loses his identity and becomes an expression of the underworld.

The photograph of the man and the hat manifests the revelatory mechanism I pursued: the position of the hat on the suitcase’s handle, which visually overlaps on the man’s head where the hat is normally supposed to be, makes this image a symbol of the ambiguity I strive to capture.

The girl in the wagon is completely unified with the environment: she has lost her individuality and is transfigured in an urban version of the Black Madonna, a religious icon. I decided to shoot on pushed high-iso color film because the organic feeling and the enhanced grain texture strengthened the complementary relationship between direct and mediated vision. I often exploit visible grain or noise, highlighting the minimum physical units of the photographic image to pursue an intentional unveiling and visual embodiment of its artifactual illusory nature.

Can you tell us about your background and how you got into photography?

My interest in photography developed in parallel with my interest in cinema. I have been a musician since I was young and in 2009 I began a Bachelor in cinema to become a music composer for film.

During those years I was rapidly seduced by photography as an extraordinary expressive form which encounters less barriers than the verbal language while embodying a fundamental component of ambiguity, two characteristics that I previously came across in composing music.

I felt intrigued to dive deeper into it theoretically and practically. The crucial encounter happened in 2013 when I met renowned photographer Giovanni Chiaramonte as my professor during a Master in Cinema at IULM University in Milan. I had the privilege of getting enlightened by him on the life-long adventure of being a photographer. Photography inexorably became the connective tool between the outworld and my mind: a means of manifesting ideas and perception.

Federico Imperiale

I saw your work for Loulou, how did you get involved with the project? Can you tell us about the specificities of working as a unit still?

I got hired by both the producer and the director, after working with them in some of their previous projects and positively impressing them with my movie stills ability.

Motion picture stills is a peculiar field of photography: it requires a specific set of hard and soft skills related to properly working on a cinematographic set while also possessing knowledge and abilities typically related to other genres of commercial photography, such as sport, portrait and event photography. The most successful stills are always the ones capturing the essence of the movie in a single frame, beyond their technical or compositional complexity. In this role, I instantly found the perfect fit for my mindset: it brings together my predilection for subjects not posing for my camera with the necessity of producing intriguing narrative images. The possibility of capturing manifestations of a fictional world excellently marries with my personal inclination to a revelatory photography. I live the set similarly to the method acting approach: I get completely immersed in the universe of the movie and become a sort of ghost observing the characters rather than the actors. That puts me in a position more similar to a street photographer, even if movie stills are essentially publicity and marketing tools for the production company.

Your portraits often have an eerie feel to them, either because faces are somewhat hidden, or because you’re playing with lights and contrasts. Is the search for people’s identity or true self something you’re pursuing through your photography?

My work is centered on researching the interrelations between perceived and represented reality and my approach is based on the themes and perspective of conceptual and street photography. I want to portray spontaneous moments of Beauty together with the unconscious aspects of vision that emerge in the mind when experiencing it.

More than the true individual’s identity, I look for representing the subjective hidden aspects of experience, particularly focusing on exploring the interpretative processes of the beholder. The eeriness visually connects to the oniric aspect of experiencing the Real, evoking the inexorable mysterious essence of being which lays behind the conceptualization of the conscious mind and make the hermeneutical process necessary.

Can you tell us about an unexpected moment while street shooting?

More than a specific moment, I would like to underline a tendency I noticed in the past five years.

The main difficulty of shooting in the street is to capture the spontaneity of an event; in the past many people felt uncomfortable in being in the presence of a photographer, often freezing or walking away as soon as the photographer was spotted.

In recent years I have noticed instead that many people react to my presence by striking their best pose while faking to not noticing you. It might be a consequence of the new social perception of photography with the total preponderance of social media: they think they could become famous by being immortalized in a photo. While it makes it easier to shoot from a quantity point of view, it removes all the spontaneity and authenticity which are vital to the quality of great street photographs. I find myself more and more taking my best shots from far away or from a moving car.

I saw the striking images you took during the Los Feliz flea or the photos for Reckless Magazine. How do you choose events you attend or moments you want to be part of for your photography?

I got hired by the Los Feliz Flea market to cover their weekly event for a couple months in the summer of 2021. It was an interesting experience as, by being an open environment event, it was more similar to a street portrait job than a classic event coverage.

The photograph selected for Reckless Magazine’s show about the underground musical scene was taken at an hip hop concert I attended in 2017 in Burbank, California.

I often have a camera with me when going out and the rapper’s performance was so vivid I decided to take a few shots of him and his crew.

Lastly, what are some of your upcoming projects?

I definitely want to continue working as a unit still photographer; it is a stimulating and rewarding profession and I always enjoy the thrill of being on a movie set.

During the next year, I also plan to expand and conclude Subveil. I purchased one of the last batch of Fuji Superia 1600 for it, since this film is now out of production and I noticed through testing that pushing an 800 ISO film that far doesn’t give me satisfactory results in terms of consistency. The new photographs will be aimed to amplify the surreal aesthetic of the body of work, strengthening the pervasive and reflective experience for the viewers. The plan is to bring the body of work to a total of 36 images; this would make the project open to being published as a book while exhibiting in galleries.

For the exhibitions, I want to produce a limited version of metal-prints: the metallic surface will create a physical connection between the exhibition space and the subway environment the photographs refer to.

Would you like to write for BAV? Or maybe you have an interesting story to share? Write to: admin@bruxellesartvue.com

Art is non-amputable – is that so?

Interview with Katarzyna Leszczyńska – Kaszuba

by Aneta Bobryk

The original language of this article in English. If you see this text in a different language it means, it is the automated Google translation.

When did you realize that art is part of you?

I don’t know … it just was – like arms, legs and head.

It grew, developed and finally is what it is. Non-amputable.

What inspires you?


What is your story?

I have always looked for the possibility of creative dropping what is in my head. The easiest way is to grab a pencil or paints. And that’s exactly what I did, with different frequencies and different effects.

The camera also accompanied me from my childhood, but of course for many years it was simply capturing important moments, and beautiful places. Just photos for an album. But it was satisfying so I always had a camera and took pictures.

The first thoughts about the composition of the picture or how to show what and how, the first read books on this subject and exploring the topic appeared only in the late 90’s.

Then, for quite a long time, my photography revolved around sports topics, more specifically around caves. Cave climbing as well as rock and mountain climbing is another great passion of mine.

What do you feel when you create?

It depends on whether the effects are satisfactory.

Once upon a time I fought till my end for an effect that would satisfy me – it’s better not to speak out loud what feelings accompany such actions!

Today I learned to let go. I already know that sometimes you have to give yourself some time and come back with a different attitude, a fresh mind, a new way to touch the subject.

Artist: necessary evil or incomprehensible man?

Artist is one of the concepts that are difficult to define. Just like beauty or ugliness. Everyone will have a definition. If I had to create my own, it would include the following phrases:

Creator of the statement.

Eternal seeker, reality interpreter, sensorist.

Recipient and giver of sensations.

If you had a taste for happiness what would it be?

Sweet and salty! And green. And blue.

Which does not translate into creativity at all … I think bitter and black dominate there. Sometimes aggressive red. I like topics that stick under my nails – they are not cute …

Does your talent scare you sometimes? If so, why and what is it about?

I am highly critical of myself and my work.

For many years, I thought that it was just hard work and everyone can work out to a good level. It changed a bit during my studies (the possibility of comparing myself with others) and since I run ceramics workshops and I can observe how it looks with others.

Recently I learned what it means to stop thinking in pictures.

I always considered thinking in pictures, seeing ready-made pictures in my head as a natural thing. Until the moment when, as a result of exhaustion, I lost this ability for a while…. it was really scary! Creativity at the zero level and the inability to make sense out of yourself.

Katarzyna Leszczyńska Kaszuba

Do you create in absolute silence or on the contrary?

I like to start in silence. So that there is room for thought and focus.

But when I turn off – nothing can stop me.

What supports your creative process? Is it so, for example, during the day, you suddenly have a flash and you can get down to the realization as soon as possible or do you approach your work calmly?

Coffee and cigarettes. Lots of coffee and lots of cigarettes!

The best ideas come to my mind just before going to sleep. Then they go to the notebook next to the bed. They mature there, grow into details – at the same time I gather the necessary materials. Props for photography, sculptures or ceramics, clay, glazes, etc.

When it comes to creative photography or sculpture, it is simply difficult to implement ideas right away. Usually it requires the mentioned preparations

But of course, during a trip with the camera, it happens that an idea appears under the influence of the existing situation and is immediately possible! Alternatively, a photographic base for graphic games with the obtained image.

If the art you create absorbs you completely or can you divide time into everything and everyone?

Absorbs! I have a problem with time sharing.

What are you afraid of?

No ideas! Boredom. Stagnation. People who lie.

What everyone loves and you can’t stand?

The most difficult question of all!

I don’t know what everyone loves… Maybe kitsch? Kamp? Although today kitsch in art often becomes a conscious choice and a way of artistic expression. In this sense, I respect.

So, cannot art be amputated and is it a part of us who lives and dies with us?

Aneta Bobryk

Would you like to write for BAV? Or maybe you have an interesting story to share? Write to: admin@bruxellesartvue.com

Remember to visit Bruxelles Art Vue Expo 18 – 31 October 2021!

Is an artist always a dreamer or a hard-standing person, the artist Petra Stefankova tries to answer.

Aneta Bobryk speaks to Petra Stefankova

The original language of this article is English.

What is your story?

For 20 years I have been a digital artist. My characters have been funky and simple. I started as a vector graphic designer and illustrator designing posters, logos and brochures. Later on, I worked on magazine editorial and advertising illustration commissions for clients in Italy, the UK and the USA.

Petra Stefankowa

Petra published her works in Bruxelles Art Vue Human Body is Art 2021 and Limitless Nature 2021 editions.

In the meantime, I was exploring automatic drawing as a technique for relaxation. They were just doodles to me, nothing much. I usually sketched on small sheets of paper, then larger and larger ones. My work was very abstract with some characters, heads, eyes and other figurative elements in it. So for the higher aesthetics purpose, I created 3D computer models of these drawings and suddenly became quite well-known for this type of work. It was more than 10 years ago.

Another stage was pure line work with black markers. These were just strange and funny characters connected by a single line all over the artwork. I used the style in a children’s book too and led a few workshops with kids thanks to the simplicity.

After many years of doing creative artwork, I started to explore acrylic painting. It was not an easy process, I tested out gouache, oils, watercolors too. Finally, I arrived at a stage, when my art feels ready for people to appreciate it more and more. And it actually works!

BAV Human Body is Art 2021

When did you realized art its part of you?

Art is always part of my life – by day or night.

How your career unfolded?

I studied graphic design, film and TV graphics in Bratislava and Prague, then started to focus more on illustration and digital art. My previous clients include HR Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Future Music, Computer Arts, The Economist, The Guardian, Petplan magazine, Orange, Microsoft Games Studios and others. As a designer, I also collaborated on an animated title sequence for the Hollywood film Nanny McPhee 2 with London based Voodoodog Animation studio. My work has been published in books, and exhibited all around the world.

When do you feel most connected with Universe?

Sometimes I meditate by the computer browsing the internet and imagine fantastic events to happen in my professional life. Later they tend to materialize in reality. Two examples – I always dreamed of being presented on national television news and there you go, I was interviewed for the main TV news a few months ago. I also wished hard to have the opportunity to be published by the Guardian newspaper in the UK, and I was given a chance by the art director in 2018.

BAV Limitless Nature 2021

How your work comments on current social or political issues?

As an illustrator, I usually respond to a variety of briefs created by writers and art directors. Some of my illustrations were created around environmental themes. I even wrote and illustrated a children’s book about a boy who saved a sea whale. I don’t illustrate or comment on politics, but I am interested in the position of women in society and give them major credit in my fine art too. I wrote more about my visual art response to global issues in my article on the blog of the Royal Society of Arts in London.

What is something that no one or very few people know about you?

When I was very young, I trained karate, I was a tennis player and I also played the piano.

What is your life’s big question?

I invested a lot of energy into my artistic development and freelance career, so the biggest question is always my life stability. I have a strong vision of being a full-time artist and follow my dreams.

So is an artist a dreamer or a tough figure with a fragile soul? Is art a better part of the artist’s soul and acts as a guide for the crowd?
I hope that our artist Petra led you to the answer with her interview and works.

Visit Petra’s website: https://www.petrastefankova.com/

Would you like to write for BAV? Or maybe you have an interesting story to share? Write to: admin@bruxellesartvue.com

Remember to visit Bruxelles Art Vue Expo 18 – 31 October 2021!