Acquainting ones ‘self with Raphael Mazzucco’s work is like walking into a mirage of striking imagery and messages displayed in the most fruitful and expressive format. The work of this hugely prolific and imaginative artist holds a sublime rawness that leaks energy all over the mind of the viewer. Preceded by an astonishingly colourful résumé, Mazzucco is able to release his passion and grounding into his work to reveal a side of human instinct, exploration and beauty that can only be described as magnificent.
Standing as one of the world’s most influential fashion photographers, Raphael Mazzucco has worked with Hollywood’s best and brightest, with his last collection being swiftly purchased by Damien Hurst for over $750,000. His brilliance in understanding form, provocation and the capturing of a moment has led him to create iconic imagery for the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Guess Jeans, L’Oreal and Ralph Lauren. All of his work is powerful in its emotion and message, each work a statement as well as an honest appreciation of beauty.
His latest collection - Montauk – showcases a body of work that combines mixed mediums such as painting, drawing, photography, writing, collage and resin to layer and construct the images through the narrative of emotion that is so very relevant within the finished pieces. The magnificent collection will be on exhibition at Castle Fine Art, Mayfair from June 5th to July 15th.
Through his explorations in Iceland and Vietnam to the creative anomalies that occur in his Montauk Studio, the processes by which he reaches this level of creation are very intriguing. The atmosphere and allure that is represented in his work could only arise through an outlook that wishes to cultivate and demonstrate life in its fullest and most raw state.
Eager to gain an insight into the mind of this astonishing artist, I was lucky enough to attend the private view for Montauk and speak with Raphael about his creative process and attempt to grasp some of the perspective behind this incredible collection of images.
Hi Raphael, thanks for taking the time, I know it must be a busy day for you!
Oh yeah, but what a beautiful day though right!?
It certainly is. The exhibition is fantastic, are there any pictures in particular that are your favourites?
Well this one over here (Points) is part of a project I did with Jimmy Iovine for Culo by Mazzucco. Then this is Vietnam, this was done years ago, this one in Georgia - so it’s all a big mix really. It’s almost like when you go travelling somewhere; you don’t really like one place more than the other because they’re so different. It’s hard to go from Icelend to Vietnam and actually choose which one was better.
So this exhibition has brought them all together? You must have been drawn to these places for a reason?
Yeah, I feel like wherever you are, that’s where the inspiration comes from. I think there’s a lot of mystery in these places like Iceland, like believing in fairies and all that stuff, and we just go out there, work with a small little crew and it’s easy, it’s all really organic and raw you know?
Absolutely. Something that’s very clear in your work is the use of female form in relation to surroundings or setting, what is it about the female body that you’re so drawn to in your art?
Well, with every place or image that I’m shooting – I don’t really know where it’s going to end up. We just start building layers, working with resin and just finding the colours that we want to work with and just work really spontaneously, almost experimentally. You see, a lot of my work is with people and it really depends on the energy that they have, so I just sort of feel it out and see what can happen.
From looking at your recent work, the likes of Veruschka and Man Ray spring to mind. Considering your influences for these recent pieces, what do you try and capture in an image?
I think, subconsciously, that a lot of those people and pictures from the past like the Veruschka and Man Ray and all of those things do have a big influence. There are so many influences, so many amazing photographers. We work a lot with natural light, shooting outside, and a lot of the time we don’t really know what we’re going to do; we just start and see where it goes. If we see a waterfall over there – we go to the waterfall and see what happens.
So in Iceland you’re pretty much going from place to place to find the right setting?
Yeah exactly, and also it’s light there for, I think, about seventeen hours of the day, so even at one in the morning it was light. It’s an amazing light – beautiful. We really just start working somewhere and see where it’s going to go and just go from there. When I’m working, I don’t really like to set the photo up too much. Although, some do look set up, but in general, I just go with it and feel it.
Is that something that translates through to your advertising work and the like?
Yeah, well it would just organically happen like that because I love shooting and even after the shooting, I’d want to keep on shooting. Now when we go and do these personal projects, we just go for art’s sake, which is great.
Something that seems so prominent in your work is the use of colour and sometimes the absence of it. What are you trying to say with your use of colour and the way that you use it?
Well, for example, this one (points to an African influenced collage) we did this in Africa and I actually DID that image in Africa. I started painting up and we printed it there and we did it all there. So all that brown on there is actually just shoe polish and we’d go to the market and work with powdered pigment and then work that in, you know? Then when we were somewhere else like Iceland for example, we’d collect bones and things like that.
Sort of an organic process then?
Yeah, a very organic approach.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
We’re working with very large furniture at the moment and maybe about 75 gallons of resin. Things like big coffee tables with gannet birds and photographs and layers. We’ll do a layer of resin and build it up with things like poetry and pictures and all sorts of things.
Sounds fantastic! I’ve heard a lot of rumors about your studio.
They’re all true, every single one.
You can catch Montauk by Raphael Mazzucco at Castle Fine Art, Mayfair from June 5th to July 15th.
Words by James Goatman
Pictures courtesy of Castle Fine Art.