by Barbara Palladino
Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, “Give [man] a mask, and he will tell you the truth”, echoes at “Clownville” – the photo exhibition that recently opened in Rome’s Leica Gallery, showcasing the work of Eolo Perfido.
Perfido is a renowned French-Italian portraitist specialized in advertising photography, whose work has been published by “The New York Times”, “Vogue Russia”, “L’Espresso”, “Panorama First”, “GQ Russia” and many more. His client portfolio includes major global brands like Pepsi Cola, Samsung, Adidas, Gatorade and Breil. After a long experience as an assistant to Steve McCurry, and working on set with great photographers Eugene Richards, Elliott Erwitt and James Natchwey, today Perfido has established himself as one of Italy’s top street photographers and has an exclusive contract with Leica Camera and Leica Akademie.
Having worked extensively with actors, musicians and people in show business, he has grown accustomed to creating an evocative, polished, impeccable aesthetic. However, with “Clownville”, he decided to uproot all stereotypes and dive deep into the human soul, to reveal the effect of the tragic and histrionic clown mask – which can be mocking or wise depending on the moment, but often conveys uncomfortable truths.
The concept behind the project stems from Perfido’s collaboration with make-up artist Valeria Orlando. The exhibition is curated by Biba Giacchetti, from photography agency SudEst57. Her words evoke the subversive power of Perfido’s shots, within a project that “is able to free and transcend any possible limit, turning the subject into play dough that can move around in the world of make-believe, of ‘commedia dell’arte’, shifting from graphic novels to psychiatry, from literature – between Pirandello and Stephen King – to Chaplin’s iconic cinema, or even Batman and the Joker. The world portrayed in ‘Clownville’ leaves us restless and amused, with the disturbing doubt that its hyperbolic characters might be a lot more closer to reality than to the imagination.”
Eolo Perfido’s work is unfailingly charming and captivating. His obscure and gothic subjects are hidden behind a dream-like mask that grants them immunity, yet reveals something about each one of us, about human truth and the caducity of life.
Open until 8 October 2019
Via dei Due Macelli, 57