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November, 2015

Featured Artist

Flavio Martin Morante

I consider myself a visual artist with roots in Graphic Arts, but with a great passion for the photographic medium, a medium I consider a constant source of learning for myself, either through its history or its different practices.

My photography is how I would describe the world if I had to write about it. With curiosity and a deep passion for visual communication, I walk around the corner of many corners of the world trying to see what's out there, recording it and sharing it here for the love of photography, people and the places and situations I have the good fortune to visit or witness.

During my time at Gallery 224 Studios I plan to work mainly on a personal project titled WISCONSIN DEAD ENDS (& Some Other Limited Landscapes), an exploration of Wisconsin's landscape, at the same time that I would like to bring my love for and knowledge in photography to share with anybody interested in learning more and helping me learn more as well. 

Visit Martin's website
Martin will be in the studio September – May 2016


A Conversation with F. Martin Morante

by Don Niederfrank

Over the time I've known Martin, we've had some very good conversations about photography and art. For those of us who have joined him on Wednesday evenings for the Portfolio series, we've found him to be knowledgeable about his art and a good presenter as well. He should be teaching.

When did you first start taking pictures?
I bought my very first camera back in 1998 and took my first ever black and white photograph that year.

How old were you when you got your first camera?
I was 21 years old. Its funny because since then I have had so many different cameras, but nothing beats that one.  

Was photography part of your growing up in Uruguay?
Somehow yes. When I was just a kid, my Dad did what down there is known as "Social Photography", which was to go on Saturdays or Sundays to the oldest church in our neighborhood where photographers were hired on the spot or beforehand to photograph weddings, baptisms, first communions, etc. My Dad did that as a way to bring home an extra income, and my Mom helped by then going around the neighborhood on a bicycle delivering the photos or collecting payments. So I can say that photography has been "in the family".

But also, I think I can surely say that I saw from early age the photographic camera as some sort of "magical" device. It was this one machine that would get pulled out of the closet only for special occasions to capture something of that moment (i.e, opening gifts after a birthday, us posing in front of the nativity tree, the last day of school,etc) and then it will be a few weeks, sometimes months, before we saw those moments printed on paper, while gathering around the table. There is something really strong about, that hard to explain with words, but in my case somehow I want to believe it created the strong bond I do have with photography as means of recording everthing.

How did you get started professionally?
It was back on 2000/01 when I did some photographs for two starting local rock bands in Uruguay. It was the first time I got paid to take photographs. The money from it did run out quickly, but the good memories about those first experiences are still here with me.

How many hours a week or a day do you spend on your art?
24 hours a day. I don't think you can punch out of your brain and your heart when it comes to art. When it comes to hands on, as much as I can, either planning, photographing or doing post work, without losing focus on enjoying the ride.

Are there other photographers or artists that have influenced your work?
I strongly believe that the more you get exposed to things and the more you look at them, especially what others have seen and done, the more chances you will learn to see and do things on your own way. That's what influence means to me, and for that reason I have many influences. Not only from photographers, but from painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, etc. Hard to pick few.

Is there a difference between the photographic art of South America and that of North America?
Besides the obvious differences existing because of the different realities (historical, political, religious, etc.) between and within each country, to me the main difference exists in how little is known about the work produced in South America compared to how much is known about North American produced work. Despite that, the history of photography on these places (North & South) does share the same root as it is the arrival of the Daguerreotype on both shores from Europe, the official history of photography has been written mainly by North America and the industrialized world, and because of that it has left a long trail of under appreciated or non recognized work produced in South America out of the big books. That's the real big difference between the work produced on both of them, and it goes even beyond photographic art.

Is there more creativity in shooting the picture or in darkroom work? Which do you enjoy more?
I think each artist has its own preference when it comes to the working process itself. To me I enjoy the whole process, as I like to do my own research before taking photos, either if it is about a place I am about to visit to what photographic process or format I will use for a determined project based on what I am trying to tell. Those are questions I enjoy asking myself because trying to answer them is part of the creative challenge to me. The afterward shooting the picture as how you edit, print, edit again, frame, title or not, and group or not images is equally important and enjoyable to me.

What's the most difficult part of doing photography?
Achieving to communicate to others with an image what you saw in something (a scene, and object, a person, a landscape, etc) that screamed at you to be photographed.

What do most people not know about photography as an art?
That knowing your equipment matters but not as much as you and how you see whatever it is you are planning on using that equipment for.

Where would you like to be as an artist 10 years from now?
I would like to still be able to do whatever I am doing and loving doing it.

If you weren't doing photography, what kind of art do you think you would do?
I want to believe I would be doing something still related. I love visual communication and can't see myself doing something else, but who knows, I been working since a really early age in many different things so I am not afraid to new endeavors.

Have you ever wanted to paint?
I am not a painter in the academically trained sense, but I do it here and there when I need a break from stress, and I enjoy it big time. I am actually working on a small painting right now, which is taking me a little longer than I would like due to the lack of proper time. It will be (if I finish it) the first painting I have done in couple of years.

Do you have a favorite gallery or museum?
There are few places I visit more often than others when I have a chance, but to me a place sometimes becomes a favorite because I attach the place to a good memory of something experienced or seen between its walls, even if I never visit the place again. And by that, I do have hundred of favorite places.

What's the most fun about doing photography?
To know that you are always learning.


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