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I met Maurizio at university when we were both studying communication. It was hard not to notice him with such a distinctive beard; there were rumors that he had to grow it, after losing a bet.  I’m sure he has the choice to shave his beard off, but he probably won’t.  During lab one day, Maurizio spoke to me, about him liking photography, and I thought to myself he probably likes photography as much as I like cakes. They’re good and beautiful as long as someone else makes them, but when I make them, it’s a disaster.. but at least I still try.  In other words, just because I like cakes, it doesn’t mean I am a pastry chef. But it is nothing like that for Maurizio, he knows what he is doing with his photography and has a sense of direction.  Portraits, that’s what he does. And you can clearly see his passion when you look at his portfolio, you find yourself being watched by all the people looking straight into the camera at first, but at a second glance they’re just looking straight at you. Being a portrait photographer is not easy job, you need to have a certain sensibility to get close to the subject, because that photograph will have to express personality, attitude, character and emotions.  What Maurizio is trying to do is to create a connection as a human being before he makes that connection as an artist. His choice to only focalize on portraits, in fact, began from his passion for people, a passion that – I have to say – I had already seen at the university, when he was speaking to others deeply, than superficially to everyone and everybody.  Looking for a way to express that deep connection towards others, Maurizio discovered photography, a technical mean that allows him to be creative, since he considers himself not able to create anything new out of nothing. Personally, I think he created something new, but if you told him that, he would deny it, modest as he is.  I’m referring to the FRUITproj, Maurizio’s workhorse, a concept he thought of while he was an Erasmus student in Poland.  While he was in Poland, he met an American girl, with distinctive oriental features of a rare beauty.  She described herself as a strawberry. I don’t know her but I know that she is a strawberry, so I imagine her to have cheerful tendencies. I say tendencies because if she was cheery all the time she would have been an apricot, not a strawberry.  Strawberries have a sour note at the finish and I imagine that she is a little melancholy, but only at the very end.  Playful, but wise, sensual, but childish, intelligent, but impulsive; this girl was a strawberry.  I deduced all of this from a Maurizio’s photograph, one of his most beautiful expression. She is laying on a white sheet and holding out a strawberry to the camera, letting a big smile explode on to her face; to envelope her gesture, a soft and warm light that softens her features even more.  When he got back to Italy, Maurizio repeated the experiment with other people, re-proposing the same situation with each person’s representative fruit.  Everything is set and still, what changes is just the subject and how he/she interacts with the object.  Maurizio is standing there just to tell what is going on, through what he calls a “portrait reportage”.  This same approach emerges in the photographs made for Passionate People, where the person’s description doesn’t stand alone , but leans on the passion of the person portrayed, as what you do is who you are.  In the FRUITproj the background was white, but in Passionate People, it was black, or rather a dark blue, and it was not a random choice.  The single color background makes the subject pop out more, but solid black would limit Maurizio’s possibilities to play with the light and contrasts. In case the background was not a backdrop, the location would become part of the reportage, used as well to build the meaning of the portrait.  The people Maurizio decided to portray so far, are ordinary people with a day to day look; even The Strawberry, despite the extraordinary beautiful appearance that she has, has an I-don’t-know/the girl next door look, which I can’t help explain. This choice, on behalf of Maurizio is dictated by the intention of giving value to the ordinary individual, showing his art that describes our acts and sensations on an everyday basis.  “Look at the camera and let’s begin,” that’s how I imagine a shoot with him. I would choose the Dragon Fruit which has a pink flesh for the FRUITproj, and for Passionate People I think he should portray me with a pen in my hand, a slice of cake in my mouth and some cinema film in my hair. I’m always complicated, on the contrary of Maurizio, who made his own vocation of simplicity: one color, one light, subject centered; clean and effective, like his logo.  The beard perhaps belies that a bit, but I think it suits him.

Laura Spataro

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