Paolo Roversi: Polaroids

Hamiltons presents Polaroids, an exhibition by renowned fashion photographer Paolo Roversi, 2 July – 14 August 2015. Consisting of a selection of both colour and black and white Polaroids, shot in Roversi’s trademark 8 x 10” film, this selection from Roversi’s diverse and adventurous archive of work illustrates his status as one of fashion’s pre-eminent photographers.

“As soon as I discovered this type of film I was enchanted by it. Even now I still feel this way and I cannot justify the reason. You know how you fall in love with something—maybe it was the colour, the contrast. It became my palette immediately.”

These rare, colour Polaroids are shot with the 8 x 10” Polaroid film and then applied with gold and silver leaf before being laminated, creating the almost mystic and painterly quality for which his work is known. The nude portraits are sepia-toned, created by combining black and white with colour, which produces an almost solarizing effect unlike any other photographic process.

“Over the course of a few years The Polaroid Company extended its range of instant films 8 x 10” with a new transparent film called 891. This particular transparency gave me the opportunity to add other textures to the original support creating new effects of almost three-dimensional images. Perhaps inspired by the beautiful Byzantine Mosaics that enriched my childhood in Ravenna, I started to work with the thinnest gold and silver leaves, which bring to the images a certain fragility and unexpected reflections creating a sort of magic mirror.

In the same corner of my studio, I took some nude portraits of girls. As the light flows through the window, it is not easy to describe the emotion of the moment in which my subject is there, against the wall, cut off from the rest of the world, abandoned to this strange solitude, in front of my camera with her entire life, all her beauty, sublimated by the northerly light.”

Roversi’s distinctive work is characterized by an ethereal and almost other-worldly quality. Italian fashion designer Romeo Gigli, who has worked with Roversi for many years, believes Roversi “succeeds in seizing a fleeting moment, a tremor of emotion which projects the women themselves into a timeless dimension – a classical and yet absolutely modern dimension of history and myth.” Vogue Hommes’ artistic director Christian Ravera is not alone in believing that no other photographer makes women appear more beautiful, nor goes so far as to capture the depths of his subject’s soul. Roversi uses a slow exposure of two or three seconds which can in part explain this powerful exchange with the person he is photographing. “You can’t explain this scientifically, but the look it gives is more intense, more profound than when you expose with a quick flash. It’s as if it allows time for the soul to appear.” Roversi’s style of fashion photography, marked by great sensibility and delicacy, is very close to 19th century portraiture, and perhaps more so even, than contemporary fashion photography.

Paolo Roversi
2 Jul – 14 Aug 2015

13 Carlos Place
W1K 2EU London

Paolo Roversi: Polaroids
Paolo Roversi: Polaroids
Paolo Roversi: Polaroids
Paolo Roversi: Polaroids
Paolo Roversi: Polaroids
Paolo Roversi: Polaroids