Most art will surprise you at how much more comfortable it looks in your own space than it did in the gallery. The work invariably becomes a familiar friend and adds to the ambience of the location it is placed in. If that piece of art, then has the added ingredient of intrigue, an ongoing interaction with it is more than guaranteed.
Christian Tagliavini is a young artist who is Swiss-Italian by birth, lives in Lugano, Switzerland, and works as a graphic designer and photographer. He basically creates portraits – which are poles apart from the norm.
With a mischievous deference to both, fashion and art history, the artist clads his sitters’ bodies with cardboard costumes which are replicas of real costumes from numerous bye gone eras. He then goes on to create portraits with his sophisticated and modern camera lenses.Almost illogically he then ‘abandons’ the normal curvy torsos of the models and replaces them with forms created painstakingly out of paper and cardboard. As if playing with paper dolls he creates visual idioms that are not only tantalising but are great conversation pieces as well.
His unique offerings are an explosive combination of art and photography; each piece takes him more than a year to put together; right from the patterning to the final construction of the form, everything is crafted meticulously and entirely by him. Once his cardboard and paper costume is ready he goes on to find an appropriate sitter whose face and arms alone are used strategically.
The fusion of art and photography is an essential dynamic of the field of art of the 21st century. The photographic image has more importance and more resonance today than ever before. The digital revolution has created a world-wide explosion of image making and by default this has refocused attention on photography as a fine art medium.
There is something about Christian’s solemn formality of traditional portraiture which seems to invite parody. In his series Dame di Cartone (Cardboard Ladies), which is intentionally perverse, gleefully imaginative and downright barmy too, he has done away with the normal forms of the model ladies; in fact these individuals are not even given any names. Instead the artist gets away in his own way by creating a one-of-a-kind collection that pays a taunting homage in equal parts to both fashion and history!
In this digital Rennaissance, Tagliavini sets himself apart and creates a unique genre. Set against the backdrop of art history, the Swiss-Italian artist wields his lens only after the long complex process of designing, building and crafting is over to create his ‘mise-en-scène’.
From beginning to completion, Tagliavini’s work is a complete labour of love and he unabashedly admits that he enjoys the process of designing these open ended stories as much as the resulting photograph.
In trying to deconstruct the complex threads of Tagliavini’s artistic mind when asked to throw some light on his visual idiosyncrasy he says, “I don’t believe I do what I do because of my origins. Nor do I want to be labelled as the one who makes historical looking portraits. I’m attracted to creating imaginary eras. Inspiration is drawn from anything and everything, the movies I watch, the trips I make, the people I meet, or even when I’m talking to someone who’s totally unrelated to what I do. I adore visiting museums, it could be even be the same one, over and over again.”
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Christian Tagliavini