It’s a family affair!
Last year, staff photographer Ricardo DeAratanha told me about a group show he was exhibiting with his family in his homeland Brazil. I was fascinated at just how much of his family is woven to visual arts. This week, Ricardo is journeying back to Brazil for the second exhibition of his family’s work. I learned so much about his family and their passion, which led me to ask him to write this:
It’s been an honor to be associated with “6 X ALBANO,” a multimedia photo exhibition hosted by the Brazilian Federal Post Office, one of Brazil’s greatest sponsors of the arts.
Its namesake is the combination of three of my Albano cousins and two of my Albano DeAratanha brothers. My awakening to the art of photography started by following the footsteps of my older brother Mario and cousin José, who had a darkroom in the apartment they shared in Rio in the 1970s. Borrowing my brother’s camera I started making family portraits and earning enough money to by my first SLR, a Nikkormat FT. I started my photojournalism career with an internship at the Jornal Do Brasil newspaper and freelancing for magazines from Editora Abril. In the meantime I attended the Anhembi School of Communication, in São Paulo. Inspired by my cousin José, who had backpacked around the world with his cameras, I set out to do just that, leaving Brazil in the mid ’70s to photograph the world. Later I joined the Image Bank, a stock photo agency. I participated in several book projects with HarperCollins Publishers and joined the Los Angeles Times photo staff in 1989, where I had the privilege to share three Pulitzer prizes.
“6 X ALBANO,” created and curated by my sister-in-law Jeanne Duarte, was launched on Sept. 23, 2011, in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, Ceará, birthplace of the Albano family. The exhibition explores the uniqueness and similarities of each one of us. Duarte’s inspiration for this project was the concept of Open Work, by Umberto Eco. Duarte says, “I found connections in the art of all these talented cousins besides their shared last name. After analyzing more than 20,000 images, I created a photographic representation of the DNA of this family and their culture. We used high-definition projectors in three sequential loops that display 400 large-scaled pictures, side-by-side. When put together they gained new meaning, jumping from their place of birth to tell us new stories.” In an adjacent space the work of each Albano is shown.
Each of my family members participates in different variations of visual communication. My brother Mario’s visual awakening came from the Technicolor American cinema and film noir. He flirted with graphic arts, using the photographic process and had his claim to fame, showing at the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna and MAM (Museum of Modern Art), in Rio. He graduated in journalism in Rio, and worked for the Associated Press and later for Jornal Do Brasil. As a reporter he traveled extensively for several years, pen and camera in hand. He had a hiatus from photography when he started Kuarup, a record label company, with led to him getting two Latin Grammy Awards. With record sales dropping, he turned back to the visuals, starting Cineviola Films, a music video company he co-owns with his wife, Jeanne Duarte.
José Albano graduated from Syracuse University in New York in photography and traveled the world with his camera. He published “40 Anos de Fotografia” (40 years of photography) and for years he’s been photographing the food of his native Ceará, for the project “Comida Ceará” (Food Ceará). He traveled through the mountains, beaches and countryside of his native state documenting what animals the people raise and they reap from nature. He chose to include only photos from this project, for this is his “digital era.”
Maurício Albano, José’s brother, has been photographing Ceará, concentrating his emotion in capturing the essence of the colors and the intense light that illuminate his state, focusing on the landscapes, fauna and flora, and the people who inhabit the immense coast, the mountains and countryside. He also got involved with the project “Comida Ceará.” Maurício has been a professional photographer for 42 years and was awarded several prizes, among them from Capes and Fulbright Foundation. He studied photography for two years at the Philadelphia College of Art. He had his photos published in books, newspapers and magazines. He has three books published, among them “Fauna and Flora at Maciço de Baturité” and “Visions: Rachel de Queiroz.”
Ciro Albano, Maurício’s son, is an ornithologist, bird photographer and birdwatching guide specializing in northeast Brazil. Influenced by his father and his uncle, his personal interest for photography was initially for the need to record the subjects of his study, the birds. With time, the passion and expression of his DNA were so strong that besides being an ornithologist and birdwatching guide, he considers himself a photographer of birds. He’s taken several award-winning pictures in the reputable Concurso Avistar. He pays special attention in portraying the rare and endangered species and thus raising awareness for the preservation of the species.
My brother Fernando has been an independent freelance photographer for more than 15 years. He specializes in architectural interiors, travel/lifestyle and product photography with a national and international clientele group of designers, advertising agencies and the resort industry. He likes the challenge of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Self taught, he traveled the world. In 1994 he started a studio in Santa Cruz, Calif. After 21 years in the U.S. he returned to Brazil, settling in São Paulo, where he continues with his photography business, including fine arts photography.
The new exhibition, scheduled to open on Oct. 26, 2012, in the eastern city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, has a new twist — the addition of three young Albanos, making it “6 X ALBANO (+3).”
A little about the young-blooded newcomers:
Leonardo Lepsch was born Albano Guedes, his father’s last name. He adopted his mother’s last name, Lepsch, as his artistic name. With his father’s guidance he learned to observe and take his first pictures with a Nikkormat. Later in life he attended photography classes with photographer Alvaro Dias. From then on he never stop photographing.
Living in London since 2008, he traveled the world creating photo essays.
An essay photographed in Africa, “Home Made Witches,” gave way to a book, published in Brazil in 2011, with ONG, “The Way to the Nations.” He has been published on the New York Times website and in the Brazilian magazine Trip.
Camilla Albano, José and Maurício’s niece, says this about her work, “I was born as if I were on moving canvases. Advertising, design, cyberculture and suddenly photography. Diverse paths of expression coming from the quality of art and purpose of the Albano family. To unite useful and strong sentences, as well as viral photography on social networks is frightfully interesting, as if to irrigate everyday life at a different speed, thus creating a new connection between art and information through interactions in the Internet. Ever since I was a young girl I thought the work of my uncles were magical. It was the natural world which kindled my motivation. The encounter with nature and photography has given me much opportunities and I’m sure that this will make it easier to help me capturing the Light.”
Rita Albano, José and Maurício’s niece, is a graduate in cinema and contemporary dance who has always tried to blend rhythm and movement into her work. Among films, commercials, video clips and documentaries, a 10-year career has passed as an assistant. In the last three years she has been able to improve her photographic vision by working on TV shows, as a director of photography and camera operation. “Little by little I developed my own style of work,” she says. “My mother, Bethi Albano, early on showed me the beauty of music, inherited in my DNA from the womb. For me, music feeds the soul, as well as photography. In this way I’m able to translate my thoughts into images that contemplate everyday life.”
I’m looking forward to this new show and the thrill to finally meeting some of these talented youngsters, whom I haven’t yet had the pleasure.
There is nothing like family.
It is my wish that all of you, reading this posting, enjoy the show and if you are in the area, come by the show!
Caption: A sample of one of the video projections from the exhibit, “6 X ALBANO.” Inset photo: NEPAL - OCTOBER, 1980 – Ricardo DeAratanha backpacking on the Jomsom Trek in the Himalayas, Nepal by Lorraine Greenfield.
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