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Lara Gasparotto
Photography Lara Gasparotto

Poetic and spontaneous photographs of youth in Brussels

Lara Gasparotto’s images capture the sensation and the freedom of being young today

Over the last few years, Liege-born, Brussels-based photographer Lara Gasparotto’s portfolio has been growing from strength to strength – not surprising for someone whose work is so deeply engrained with own their life experiences. Although her photo-books and series depict the evolution of her life and a state of mind, certain themes have remained a constant, “the figure of woman, youth, sensations, nostalgia, the simple beauty of being together, and the beauty of nature.” Her provocative work is first-hand and spontaneous; images are caught in the moment and never mediated or staged. When we spoke over email, she shared that her “immediate inspirations are my friends, people around me, the moment and sensations that we share”. Despite this biographic element, Gasparotto’s work is not purely documentary or reportage; the images are often blurred, fragmented or obfuscated, in order to create a narrative that is poetic, even disconcerting.

“I want people to approach my work as poetry or music, something with no beginning or end, more like a compilation of sensations” – Lara Gasparotto

Off the back of her exciting presentation at the Stieglitz19 stand at Unseen Amsterdam last month, and with two exhibitions due to open in the next month (one at Ecce Homo in Antwerp, the other at the Jimei x Arles International photo festival), Gasparotto is also currently working on three collaborative book projects. One with the photographer Antione Grenez and writer Simon Johannin about nightlife in Belgium, the other a book of photographs accompanied by poetry from Margaux lea Corsini, and the last one is focused on youth culture in Ukraine. The work exhibited at Unseen, which was untitled, comprised of semi-abstract landscapes, portraits of loved ones, and of domestic interiors, taken in both colour and black-and-white and shown in a mystical, disorientating context. Gasparatto also experimented with a new technique for her presentation, merging her painting background with her photography practice in order to create unique drawn editions, which were printed on special papers she sourced while travelling. “I wanted to offer collectors the opportunity to buy something from me, that is unique, precious, and more valuable than a photo that comes in an edition of three or six,” she explained.

Gasparatto first travelled to Kiev, Ukraine in 2011 by train, with a group of friends from Liege’s graffiti scene. She’s returned every year since, documenting life there, and cites her artistic relationships with artists like Vova Vorotniov as particularly formative. Through selling work, she has also been afforded the opportunity to go to North America, Peru, Panama, Mexico, Cambodia, China, and Ethiopia. “I take inspiration from everything, everywhere,” she expresses. “I’m inspired a lot by music, I have a very eclectic taste and I can’t work without music. I would like to put on an exhibition where music forms part of an installation. I also love cinema (Park Chan-woo, Satoshi Kon, Miyazaki, Bergman, Lynch, Jarmusch) and literature, (Faulkner, Fante, Brautigan, Carver). Painting too – I especially love old Flemish masters, Renaissance masters, and the modern avant-garde, such as the Expressionists.”

For Gasparratto, her main desire to express “what is to be someone growing up in our time, how do we apprehend our surroundings, I want people to approach my work as poetry or music, something with no beginning or end, more like a compilation of sensations.”