Documentary in style, with an interest that stems from his chronicling of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the work of Italian photographer Enzo Amato captures his understanding of the correlation between the spontaneity and energy of a fleeting moment between subjects and events. Amato’s work is the result of the artist’s innate patience, interest and adept ability to witness and capture ephemeral moments in a type of historical archive.
Bearing witness to the fall of the Berlin Wall triggered in the mind of the artist the significance and effect of writing on walls – and the impact of seeing messages in the public realm.
Street art itself is usually a non-permanent artform executed by unseen, by-night artists, outside of the context of traditional art venues. For Amato, the interest is as much about the artist, and the environment within which it has been painted as it is about the art. Many of his photographs show the artist at work, yet most represent the works themselves after completion, and in the context of everyday life carrying on around them. His work is often juxtaposed against the backdrop of social or political issues, such as his Berlin Wall series, and today his attention is brought to Cuba.
Cuba is a country embarking on great political change, and a country whose people are renowned for using the medium of street art to express their cultural and domestic views.Amato has recently travelled through Cuba with camera in hand in order to document streetscapes – a series that captures the old and the new, the Cuba that was and the Cuba that is, and will present his subsequent series in an exhibition at Ambush Gallery.
For Amato’s new series The Cuba Street Art Project he documents some of the old propaganda – ‘moral graffiti’ - painted on old buildings and peeling facades, and follows emerging local and international street artists painting their way around Havana, capturing in a frame essential elements of an urban context - someone opening a door, an open window, cars passing by, locals passing by all elements that add up to a living contemporary environment.
Amato has a deep-seated interest in history. His studies and early childhood growing up in the ancient city of Naples have etched into him an appreciation of the omnipresence of the past. From a philosophical standpoint, he looks at history and his photography as layers – past, present and future – that interplay on continuous loop. He looks at buildings and structure in an investigative fashion, peeling back the patina, layer by layer to look at the integrity of the structure itself. Thus more profoundly within each frame, Amato’s work is not only about street art and street artists, nor the presented streetscape – but about capturing the history and culture of a people in an unstructured moment of everyday life. It could be said that Amato’s interest in following street artists around Havana, and in general, is about the opportunity to witness the perspective of an individual who is very much integrated within the cultural landscape of the environment, a guide who shares an understanding of the journey from the past to the present, whilst granting us the freedom to imagine a future
By Sascha Gianella