New Arrivals: Renato D'Agostin's Shanghai

Commencing with a journey, either to Tokyo, across Europe, or motorcycling from the east to west coast of the United States, Renato D'Agostin's imagery takes us on a visual excursion through time and public space. His images exhibit an ethereal quality, playing with the film grain of each print. Elliptical in form and often showing small parts of a larger field, D’Agostin’s photographs allow us, as the viewer, to experience the overlooked, the unexamined, and see the everyday with fresh eyes. His pictures subtly capture what he sees, like a painter or draftsman, using light and shadow to define his ever shifting content. D’Agostin’s imagery makes apparent that humanity and the world at large is connected by time, and the angles in which he captures his subjects whether, figures, architecture, or object, abstracts the particularity of place and persona, transforming our perspective of these rather fleeting moments. His minimalist approach to interpreting reality and urban landscapes in combination with an expertise for the darkroom printing process, using bracketing and framing devices, yields an image that is, in some ways, definitive of postmodern photography and that, in other ways, harkens back to the tradition of the photo secessionists.

Born just outside of Venice in 1983, Renato D’Agostin began his photographic career in 2001. Under the direction of Ralph Gibson, working as his personal printer, D’Agostin was able to find, commit to, and perfect his unique photographic aesthetic. His photograph entitled, “Shanghai,” is representative of two figures observing a kite, and can be described as romantic, with the horizontally framed heads contrasting the airy quality of the kites vertical movement. The art of kite making in China dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and has become a prominent aspect of Chinese culture, the country’s history, and an intricate part of the landscape. Within this image, D’Agostin delicately captures a special moment in time, describing his process as translating the layers that build a city into light. He views his compositions as “multi-layered entities where elements interact with each other,” and avoids capturing the cliché. In particular, this high contrast image, crops and blurs the background, creating a rather reductionist view of the two figures who become mere silhouettes, evaporating any determining human characteristic. By abstracting the landscape, D’Agostin brilliantly manifests a thought-provoking image that is approached from an uncommon and original angle. His work exudes passion and precision and is inimitable. As the artist states, “there is no subject that cannot be photographed,” which he illustrates in his extensive oeuvre.

Embedded with graphic visual narrative, Renato D’Agostin’s work transforms life, whether the everyday mundane such as a man walking through the streets of Tokyo or the fantastical, such as acrobats during a performance. He is a nomad with a camera, constructing a physical representation of whatever he sees. Maybe the only photographer of his time to bridge the gap between the postmodern arts and the traditions of black and white photography, Renato D’Agostin maintains the rhythm, tone, and the fluidity of space such images have constituted since photography’s invention.

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