This Exhibition is Celebrating 20 Years of Paolo Roversi’s Photography

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Natalia, Paris, 2009© Paolo Roversi; courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

“It is all about feeling and spirit,” says Roversi of his work, the last two decades of which are collated in a new exhibition in New York. Here, the photographer talks about his unique process

“For me to take a picture is an act of love, something to connect with the rest of the world and... voila!” Italian photographer and AnOther Magazine contributor Paolo Roversi says on the phone from his Paris studio of nearly four decades. “It’s like a kiss. It is to exchange a regard. It is very simple.”

Very simple – and pure. For Roversi, the photograph is an invitation to discover what lies beyond the known, creating a space where anything is possible. “I like to be lost in mysteries. I don’t like to explain everything. I don’t like to ask. I do not look for the answer in fact. I am happy with only the question,” he says.

It is for this reason that he has titled his new exhibition Doubts. Opening February 14 at Pace/MacGill in New York, the show brings together works made over the past two decades, offering a glimpse into the artist’s psyche. “There is always an important piece of myself in the picture,” Roversi says. Accordingly, he calls his process “giving a picture” rather than “taking” one. “I think the pictures are not just something we see in front of our eyes – I think the pictures are inside us,” he explains.

“It’s something coming up from our interior world: our memories, obsessions, emotions, and the picture is formed by all that. It’s not just the exterior world in front of us. I don’t think we take the picture that is there and we put into the camera but we give the pictures we have inside already and we put it into the light.”

For the artist, the photograph then is an opportunity to explore new realms of the unknown, using instinct and intuition as a guiding force. “Nothing is logical or rational in my way to work. It is all about feeling and spirit, and it is very hard to explain,” Roversi reveals. 

“I don’t have any certitude when I start to take pictures. A portrait is an encounter between myself and my subject – and nothing is certain. I don’t know what will happen. I do not know how it will be. I do not know which kind of picture will come out in the end. It’s a mystery we try to reveal together. It is not just a reproduction of what we are doing but more a revelation of what we are discovering together.”

The resulting photographs – filled with atmosphere – explore spaces of uncertainty, vulnerability, and trust. The meanings can often slip through the viewer’s hand. As Roversi knowingly says: “I like to keep the mystery.”

Paolo Roversi: Doubts is on view at Pace/MacGill, New York, from February 14 – March 23, 2019.