Words by Claudia Bigongiari
All Images © Davide Padovan
Davide Padovan is an Italian photographer, born in 1989 in Luino. He’s now based in province of Varese where he’s trying to keep himself busy although the tough moment of less production he (as many other artists) is living right now.
Starting from the beginning: he was still very young, at the end of high school, when he approached photography for the first time, to copy with drawings and paintings. At some point, the process itself became more immediate and interesting than the academic study. So, right after school he took a technical class of photography, using both analog and digital methods, and developing a special affection for films. Since then his production grew up around different subjects, portraits, nudes, the Italian landscape and culture, and with them the sense of intimacy and familiarity.
He usually goes out with the camera (the time he forgets it, he always regrets) without a methodical process, only following the instinct, “even if I’m wrong, after few trials I understand which is better for the kind of situation I’m dealing with”. The perfect situation for Davide Padovan is inside a comfort living room or bedroom where people can be themselves and the photographer only a silent and discrete presence, or the everyday outside where everything is what he knows better. “I like to shoot things I know” he said.
Inside, his nudes are the result of a delicate attention to the space, the private space where he gets to know better the people he portrays: “when it’s possible, I like portraying the same people more times. And creating a relationship with them beyond the “professional” way”. Here the body doesn’t mean sexuality but intimacy, the stereotypes and contradictions that fill our world are less, and through photography these naked people can be totally honest, without thinking of satisfying someone else. It becomes a therapy more than a pure instinct, a personal path. A therapy for the image of our body and ourself, which is difficult to accept because of the targets our society wants us to reach.
Shooting people in their own homes is the best way to see and understand their behaviours, and shooting them on film doesn’t create any pressure around the body. That’s why it’s therapeutic, because the time of waiting for the development let all the stereotypes go. The photographer is just the element who starts the process.
Outside, Davide Padovan represents places of his homeland, in a very personal way. If intimacy is the key to read the nakedness, silence is what characterises the Italian landscapes. Regarding the project Say something, it takes the title from the mural Davide photographed in the middle of the series. “It works as title as the silence is a great element of the pictures”. He merges interiors and outdoors, people and places, strangers and friends. Differently from nudes, he always maintains a sort of distancing, hiding his presence even more. Sometimes the scene is taken from the furthest point, like for the mural, he shoots from the glass of the car or from the other side of the road. Same with people, they often avoid the gaze of the camera, closing their eyes, putting one hand on the face (like the old woman on the sofa), or looking somewhere else. That is not a premeditation, but only a consequence of the photographer trying to be invisible or at least to give that impression. Davide Padovan doesn’t want to be an interruption of what it’s going on, but a silent voyeur of the everyday, of what is familiar.
His projects are long term, he doesn’t really can explain how they start and when they will end, until they end. They are like a stream of consciousness full of questions about why he’s doing photography, and with the awareness that he can’t stop because it’s what he needs.
Starting his education from fine arts, the influence of different artistic currents is visible. He’s also curious about what is around him nowadays. He really loves photo books, he got plenty of them, such as of Trent Parke, Todd Hido, Masahisa Fukase, JH Engstrom and Lars Tunbjork.
As said, the pandemic alarm made this moment really hard for artists used to go randomly around with their camera to seek for new inspirations. But for sure, we’ll see new great images coming out from the “silent” photographer Davide Padovan.