Born in Milan in 1946, Roberto lives between his native city, Rome and Miami. In the 1960s he photographed over a hundred jazz concerts, building up a complete gallery of portraits of the most important jazz musicians of the period. These images have been displayed in numerous solo exhibitions, and used for magazines, books, CD sleeves, and have been collected in a photographic book Swing, Bop & Free (2006), which presents over 100 portraits of jazz icons of the 1960s.
But then, after entering with his portraits in the history of entertainment photography, in the early 1970s he decided to hang up his camera and embark on a completely different career, as both an entrepreneur in the computer software business and an university professor.
Ten years ago he took up his camera again, after an expressive silence lasted three decades. Although he never stopped exploring traditional photography, he was carried away by the artistic movement that grew up around the ICM — Intentional Camera Movement — shooting technique. A form of expression that is still relatively unknown but has enormous potential, and involves creating images with long exposures and moving the camera while taking the photo.
Roberto Polillo draws his inspiration from the iconographic tradition of Orientalist works, Turner’s watercolours, Van Gogh’s paintings, De Chirico’s Metaphysical art and modern painting in general. Consequently, his interpretation of the ICM technique soon became highly pictorial. Also because when he takes photos, it is as if he had an imaginary canvas in front of him: the camera is his brush, and every movement he makes with the camera, a brush stroke.
Roberto Polillo’s primary objective is to capture the genius loci of cities and countries. Like those nineteenth-century painters who sought the spirit of place with their brush, Polillo goes in search of the souls of the world with his camera. And so was born “Impressions of the World,” an artistic adventure that began more than a decade ago and led him to Morocco, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Central America, Cuba and Iceland. “Visions of Venice” is the first chapter of this journey. Long fascinated by the Orient, Polillo’s photographic exploration is nothing less than a spiritual and physical voyage to the East, that necessarily begins in Venice, where East and West have met and mingled for centuries.
Artist photo by Roberto Cristaudo