Robert Calafiore was born in New Britain, Connecticut to Italian immigrants. Both his early childhood and young adult experiences have played a significant role in shaping his interests and practice. Raised in a Catholic home, and part of a large extended family, the religious influence and the strong ties to traditions and work ethic, contributed in molding the way he relates to the world. He was the first to attend college receiving both BFA and MFA degrees. Calafiore has focused on his artistic practice while administrating, teaching and promoting the fine arts, internally and externally from a university staff and faculty position.
He received his MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his BFA from Hartford Art School. Currently he lives and works in West Hartford, Connecticut, exhibiting his work nationally and internationally. Robert was recently awarded a Connecticut Artist Fellowship Grant for 2018, featured in a solo booth at PhotoFairs San Francisco by Gallery 1/1 from Seattle and at AIPAD by ClampArt, named the Second Sight Award recipient and guest speaker for Medium Festival of Photography for October 2018, and is newly represented by ClampArt, New York City with his first solo show closed in March 2018. Find recent reviews and articles about his work in Photograph Magazine, Diffusion Annual IX, Lenscratch, Fraction Magazine, Foto Relevance, At Length Magazine and Collector Daily.
His next solo exhibition will take place in December at Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, Indiana. Recent museum acquisitions include Transformation Station, Cleveland, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, Albright Knox, Buffalo, and New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT.
“What I Can’t See”
This series of figurative works began as a marriage of two interests; a fascination with the male muse and an observation about how new technology and communication platforms are changing human interaction with our physical world and to each other. I have set aside my still life work about immigration and family to return to work on the male nude, pushing my ideas and myself further. In light of current political and cultural shifts across the world, celebrating the differences between us through both projects is critical.
The project began several years ago as visually over the top, luscious, decadent, and indulgent pictures, influenced by a mix of art history, mythology, religion, and personal, sometimes intimate experiences with my models. My photographs tell stories about secret love, desire, lust, identity, and friendship, illustrated in dream-like constructions. The male eye gazing upon the male body…still uncomfortable for so many. Creating new work extending this series is in part an effort to stay out of the shadows. It’s a small contribution in maintaining awareness about our fragile relationship to each other. It is essential to bring us all together as humans at a time when we are being pushed and manipulated to oppose one another.
The process, materials, and tools used are important, and using the photo as object has been an integral part of my studio practice from early on. These 40” x 30” entirely analog c-prints are made in large hand-built pinhole cameras. Exposed directly to paper, they reveal the subject in the negative. It’s otherworldly, elevating the ordinary to a magical place as it transforms the world to a place I long to see. It keeps me wanting. The labor intensive work engages me physically. In a performance-like way, I manipulate the scene by live dodging and burning, shifting light sources, moving objects and through extending exposures to between 25 and 65 minutes long. There is nothing digital; everything happens in the studio and in the camera. The camera’s unusual wide angle, the light sensitive paper’s quirky recording characteristics and the rest, are leveraged to create dynamic, saturated, vibrant, and somewhat mysterious images.
The way in which we interpret and react to the world around us has shifted. Smartphones, augmented realities, and artificial intelligence are dramatically altering our relationship to the world. My work is about a pause, a break in the pace and a longer look into / through / across the subject; an observation and questioning of what it means to be human going forward in an uncertain time politically, socially and technologically.
Installation View, from the series “Muses”
To view more of Robert Calafiore’s work please visit his website.