Paolo Ventura: Lo Zuavo Scomparso

13 February - 16 March 2013
Installation Views
Press release

Gallery Baton presents Lo Zuavo Scomparso (Lost in Rome), the second solo exhibition of Italian photographer Paolo Ventura from February 13th to March 16th, 2013.


Paolo uses Diorama technique which is his own searched form of production and the most effective tool to envelop his artistic goal within the genre of photography. As if a movie director combines the stories pulled out from his imagination and script and creates the stories from one scene to another, Paolo quietly depicts everyday life of his fatherland Italy or dim reminiscences of the past through this technique.


In fact, the reason why photography remained at remote region in contemporary art should be that painting firmly took the lead in the conventional idea of art. In other words, photography does not follow the way of generating the image through physical method attained by canvas and brush, and the role of mechanical device, Camera, is enormous about the final outcome. Photography also contains inherent weakness regarding originality.


In this respect, Paolo's diorama technique acts as an element that overcomes relative heterogeneity that photography has when creating the minimum image. The process of creating every element as miniatures is essential feature in his works. For documentary photography, it is common phenomenon to seek what the artist wants by transforming the character's makeup and space. However, Paolo takes further steps by making all the objects in the final frame directly and elaborately. The dummies in the frame in which their outer appearance are replicated through elaborate photographic technique endlessly challenge the area of originality by appropriating the human's visual imperfections.


Lo Zuavo Scomparso is a series of work commissioned by the city of Rome. Nevertheless, as usual in Paolo's works, it is not easy to find the characteristic elements of Rome (although his former series Automaton is an exception). By following his intention of mixing reality and virtual, all the scenes are expressed as a cloudy space in which the time zone is difficult to be measured. Also, he is extremely stingy about portraying historical background and context, even though the artist himself appears as firstperson observer or the character within the scene. In the case of Automaton series that he presented in his solo exhibition at Gallery Baton in April 2011, the situation that each work portrays was roughly comprehensible due to the relationship between the Jew watchmaker hiding from the Nazis and the mechanical doll that he made. However, in the case of this series, we can only approximate that the background is modern Italian region through the attire of characters including the artist.


Lo Zuavo Scomparso. This title for Paolo's new works as it is the title of this exhibition is translated as 'Lost Soldier (in Rome)'. Zuavo (Zouave in English) was the title given to certain light infantry regiments in the French Army serving in French North Africa, but the name became adopted as a pronoun referring to a body of armies. Zuavo, appearing many times in modern Western history, shows commonality through their peculiar costumes. Their attire, using brilliant colors such as red, emphasizes on decorative elements rather than practicality. It has been loved afterwards by soldiers as well as civilians for this characteristic.


As mentioned in the introduction, Paolo tried to create his own Rome. By excluding landmarks that distinguish Rome, erasing ever blue color of the sky, and making Zuavo which has existed for several centuries appear, Rome he created is depicted to us as a stationary and unfamiliar space. In addition, Paolo searches for Zuovo that is vanished from the city with his own language and color. From Rome, the city with its time stopped and existing by resorting to the honor of the past rather than the present.


“A Zuavo arrives in Rome to visit the city. On the tenth day he disappears. Someone sees him entering a cafe. Others see him going into a park. Nobody, however, hears any more of him.”