FIGURES IN LANDSCAPE
Born and raised in Cattolica, in the province of Rimini, Massimo Leardini decided to depart from his Italian roots and moved to Norway back in 1987 where he lives today with his wife and his two children. From a young age - when he adored the painter Modigliani - he has been involved in the imagery of melancholy and nostalgia. He recently published his latest book „Primitive”.
Massimo, you were born in Italy but moved to Norway?
Yes. I moved to Norway back in 1987 at the age of 27 after having lived in Italy with my Norwegian wife for 4 years.
There is a vast difference between the light in the south and the north. How did Norway change your perception of beauty?
I don't really think Norway changed my perception of beauty. Sometimes I think that this move was always meant to be. I feel very privileged because of that, it is a really good place for me to be. The nature, the long light summer nights and my memories of Italy are an inspiring combination. It brings me a lot of joy.
Massimo, would you consider your photographs a deep-rooted journal of your emotions?
The timeless beauty of your work creates a space of peace and silence for the viewer. How does the aspect of silence influence your work?
I think silence is necessary for my work. I love to take photographs and I find it easier to dive into the speed of life, thinking and seeing when I'm surrounded by silence.
Why is it so easy to create nostalgia and melancholy surrounded by a forest?
It's not necessarily the forest, but places without people, silent places, surrounded by timeless nature.
Do you name all your photographs?
No. Everyone can name them as they want, I keep the date, number and name of the person due to practical reasons.
What kind of camera and materials do you work with?
Last year I discovered and experimented with a digital camera. Before that I have always used film, shooting with a Pentax 67. For me it's not an issue what I use. I wish I could just always take pictures in the moment when I see things. I often dream when I sleep and it's a horrible feeling when I wake up, because all the pictures I have taken in my dreams have faded away.
Black and white photography is your preferred way to translate emotions into visuals. Do you think your work would also be well received in colour?
I don't know. I don't feel any particular reason at the moment in getting into that. I see the world in black and white. My perception of the world is black and white. Not reality.
The majority of your work evolves around the beauty of women. What do you generally look for when you choose a girl?
The eyes. An interesting face. This is actually difficult to explain. I just see her and feel that she's right.
I heard that you only started photography professionally when you were at the age of 30. Which medium did you use to express your vision before?
I always drew a lot and I have been interested in beauty and architecture from a very young age. Photography just became the right medium to express myself.
What's the last dream you can remember?
I just told you about that earlier - taking pictures.
Your visuals catapult me right into a sweet nostalgia. Are you inspired by the past?
Yes. It could be anything. Especially by all those childhood memories of the place I grew up in. It gives me a great feeling. Something I think has influenced me a lot in my vision of beauty and life.
Photography Massimo Leardini
Interview Stefan Dotter