PDN   by: Anthony LaSala   May 1, 2006   
Paolo Ventura
By Anthony LaSala

Tom Hunter and his elaborate conceptual creations of Old Master paintings
combined with modern day headlines are not the only innovative, fabricated
reconstructions going on in the photography world these days. Another name
that has received a lot of attention in the past year is Paolo Ventura and
his complex images that recreate fictional scenes from World War II. Ventura
’s work is featured in War Souvenir, a publication released this Spring by
one of our 2006 PDN Players, book publisher Contrasto.
“Since the first moment I saw the images by Paolo, I was totally
fascinated,” says Contrasto Director, Roberto Koch. “He works on the real
memory of true events, and he reconstructs them in a narrative environment
that he creates with his hands, only in order to give us back a photograph
full of details. The traditional power of photography as the privileged
medium to provide evidence is now brought, with Paolo’s art, to a different
status: it’s indeed through his photographs that we can now remember
something even if we have never seen it before.”
The Italian-born Ventura produces his images using miniature figurines and
sophisticated sets. The photographs range from gruesome events - with
set-ups displaying hangings, suicides, bullet-ridden rooms and deceased
soldiers buried in mud – to nostalgic scenarios showcasing couples kissing
in low-lit bistros and soldiers relaxing at theatrical performances. The
images focusing on the fallen soldiers encased in soil are especially
gripping. Glancing at them, viewers could easily imagine these being genuine
combatants depicted through the lense of Robert Capa as he traversed the
war-torn European continent.
Ventura, who now splits his time between New York and Anghiari, Italy, has
had his work published in a number of magazines, including Aperture, The New
Yorker and Harper’s Magazine. His “War Souvenir” project will also be
exhibited at the Hasted Hunt Gallery, along with images by Eugene Richards.
The show runs through May 20th.
“Ventura has a unique childlike and dark view of a special world - Italy in
the late 1930's and 40's,” says Bill Hunt of the Hasted Hunt Gallery. “We
have only known about this through movies and old black and white
photographs. The artist takes us on a strange tour of period, place and
people. These photographs are his imagined forensic evidences. This is
wonderfully well done, dramatic, tragic and funny story telling. Pairing him
with the ultimate in reportage, Eugene Richards, seems like some sort of
divine and curious marriage.”

To see more of Paolo Ventura’s work, please see his website –

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