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Shadows on Parade: Nicol Vizioli

The Italian photographer and London College of Fashion's MA student talks about her Arts Gallery expo, and gives us an exclusive preview of her images

Caravaggio imbued his paintings with an appealing poetic reality using contrasts of shade and light. Photographer Nicol Vizioli somehow manages to do the same in her images that mix tenebrism, realism and fantasy in dramatic and evocative representations. Vizioli employs chiaroscuro techniques to create her mythically pagan or magically mystic compositions in which the human and animal world go back to an ancestral time.

Born in Rome, where she studied Cinema & Digital Arts, Vizioli started working as a painter while completing her MA in Fashion Photography at London College of Fashion. The photographer will be presenting her “Shadows on Parade” series of portraits at an exhibition opening on Thursday at the Arts Gallery.

DD: What inspires your images and how would you describe them?
Nicol Vizioli:
Every photograph is the end of a journey which always starts far away, inside and outside me. My work comes from different places, as well as most of my inspirations. I get obsessed quite easily with several things, and they costantly change. But, at the same time, I have to admit that all those things can be traced back to the same place – that is the animal and the natural world, the human body and the vulnerability of the flesh.

DD: Some of your images, like the Madonna one, look like a modern twist on the sacred images of the Virgin Mary we have in certain churches in Italy, do you feel that your background somehow inspires your vision and your work?
Nicol Vizioli:
I guess it is quite inevitable, it is where everything comes from and at the same time leads to. I grew up in Rome where you are constantly surrounded by immense, ancient beauty, the austerity and the decadence, and everything seems to be stuck in time but still hits your eyes with the same magnitude. I think that kind of suspension - which I feel I will always belong to - intrigues me the most.

DD: Most of your photographs have got an eerie quality about them, a sort of unsettling beauty that makes me think about Burke's sublime - in a nutshell, as a viewer you're attracted, but scared at the same time - is this what you were trying to achieve?
Nicol Vizioli:
I never really thought about it in that way. The main thing I have been aiming to achieve is a faithful representation of my inner vision. My imagery is populated by certain characters, stories, memories and I try to use photography to disclose and reveal them. In that unrepeatable instant in which a door opens and our experience is transformed, I guess you can find various things and emotions, such as attraction, fear, horror, silence.

Shadows on Parade, Arts Gallery, University of the Arts London, 272 High Holborn, WC1V 7EY, 17 May – 29 June, 2012