SAMSTAG ALUMNI 2002

Renato Colangelo
Born 1976, Melbourne, Victoria

Renato Colangelo's frame of reference is the family photo album as a repository of personal and collective memory. He is interested in 'exploring my relationship to my family's sentimental past identity', and in the ways ItaloAustralians 'are participating in a continuous tradition almost oblivious to the fact that their traditional culture has been modernised and is all but gone'.
If the essence of photography is always to show us the past, this nostalgia is reinforced in Colangelo's work, since he shows us a way of life overtaken by history. There is a 'fifties' feel to many of Colangelo's images, most obviously because his subject matter is often suburban interiors that have remained virtually unchanged since the postwar wave of Italian migration. But this effect also comes, I think, from his studied use of a 1950's camera and cumbersome handheld flash. In some images the photographer even makes himself visible in the margins of the frame, an outstretched hand casting light on the dramatic mise en scène. These handprinted black and white images evoke not just a way of life, but a mode of seeing, as characteristic of its era as the washedout colour snapshots of the seventies, or the home videos of the nineties.

Colangelo's Confrontation Series is a frank portrayal of the troubles of family life, images rippling with dramatic tension like stills from a postwar Italian realist film. His great skill as a portraitist is evident in Brigit's View, which not only captures the questioning eyes and restless athomeness of its subject, but becomes an eloquent record of a moment, in the moody tranquillity of the night sky and the city lights.

Russell Smith from his Samstag catalogue essay, Making The Makers
 
2002 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship
2002 Graduate Program, Fondazione Studio Marangoni, Florence, Italy 
1999 Bachelor of Arts (Photomedia), Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney 
1997 Diploma of Visual Arts (Photography), Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE 

Artist's website
http://www.renatocolangelo.com/