Trace of lights di Santin

“TRACES OF LIGHT”, di Alessandra Santin

Presentation in the exhibition catalogue “Light Traces” Photographs 1997-2022, Sala Veruda, Palazzo Costanzi, Trieste, 2023

Stefano Tubaro’s photographic works create worlds that have little to do with given reality.  Why? Why this creative and constructive intentionality of a place that, in itself, does not exist?

From a conceptual point of view, intervening on the external environment, modifying it, represents one of the most exemplifying actions of the motivations that underlie the creation of the contemporary work of art, which always proposes a change, an opening, an innovation.

The artist expresses awareness of the limit of his own “real” experience, which is the necessary condition, according to Heidegger, for “becoming human”, point of departure of an authentic existence.

Stefano Tubaro initially senses the need to make changes in the surrounding reality, and later to create other places, new rooms that ignore the limits of everyday spaces in order to fully express his need for harmony, the desire to be “reborn” in new forms and relationships. The artist creates works as personal visions that reflect his vital and demanding interiority. In each photographic shot, always meditated, one’s existential experience acquires a new meaning, phenomenologically capable of compensating for the contemporary current, in which the environment appears dominated by exploitation and neglect, by excesses of weight, colors and noises, and by abandonment.

The Tracce Luminose/Traces of Light exhibition documents the development of this research, which takes place in three successive series of works: Contrattempi/Setbacks (begun in the late 1990s, when Stefano Tubaro worked in analogue); Contrazioni/Contractions (begun around 2010, digitally) and Stanze fotogeniche/Photogenic Rooms (his most recent research, carried out during the pandemic).

The common denominator of the work of these twenty-five years is above all the use of light, and in particular of colored light on the architecture; secondly, the presence of silence must also be recognized, the need to make silence visible by creating atmospheres in which time appears slowed down or suspended, even if never completely still.

I Contrattempi/Setbacks presents points of view turned toward the outside world, often shots of buildings and city streets in which geometric relationships dominate, capturing synthetic spatial relationships, essential even in their complexity.

In the here and now of the street, Stefano Tubaro goes beyond the limit of the objectivity of the present. He takes his gaze out of habitual time and space, to immerse himself in assonances and dissonances that are only apparently known. The plastered walls, the cornerstones, the often unused industrial buildings inhabit a new light of a different time, never saturated and never gloomy. They live in a virgin time, sometimes traversed by unnatural chromatism.

The light is filtered and determined without the need to create a body. There is everywhere an emergence of being, a historical pulsation of becoming.

The lines mark the pure rhythm of the chiaroscuri.

The photographic works of the Contrazioni/Contractions series instead explore interiors, moving into domestic environments, often rural, or bare and labyrinthine industrial premises.

The doors of the various rooms are always open onto deserted entrance halls and corridors and allow glimpses of dimly lit and no longer inhabited corners: further paths for foreign explorers. Here and there some disused furnishings survive.

This world redesigned by Stefano Tubaro with beams of light in vivid and artificial colors, unedited, simultaneously presents successive times, which give alienating effects to the different scenes. Rarely do ghostly figures emerge in them, self-portraits in the form of indefinite and pulsating memories.

Il Divenire/Becoming is without a doubt a hallmark of his poetics.

Instead of the cut-off, incomplete and interrupted glimpses of Contrattempi/Setbacks, the artist now prefers the sense of a complete and alternative parallel inner space, extra-ordinary and aimed at the unconscious or the transformative force of memory and abstract thought.

The spaces are desires freed from transversal lights, a conceptual matrix.

In short, Stanze fotogeniche/Photogenic Rooms represent the sum of almost inexhaustible research.  Stefano Tubaro ignores the prevailing reality (locked down and pandemic). Eluding any naturalistic reference system, he creates scenographic environments created in the laboratory, where everything is designed ex ante. “True fictions” of never inhabited architectural places, these rooms have walls and floors decorated with kinetic textures, expressly created in a darkroom on photosensitive paper.

The artist suggests unexplored perceptual circuits that transcend the real. The absence of furnishings prevents the perception to scale of spaces that appear as immense or of reduced dimensions; in these “sculptures of the void” the present is surpassed with a view toward different possible scenarios and vital times.

The visual reading of the places varies greatly, influenced by the number of sources that illuminate the rooms and by their positioning: playing with these variables allows Stefano Tubaro to obtain emotionally engaging poetic effects, depending on intent and the display of colors, now more ethereal and allusive: indigo, dusty bluish grays, soft shades of antique pinks, the transparencies of golds and the silvery reflections of certain sidereal sunsets. The transversal light sources, sometimes directed from above, create a balance of shadows capable of modeling the spaces in their entirety. The creation of contrasts between the accent lights and those of giving atmosphere imbues the lighting with the establishment of a perceptive hierarchy that enhances individual areas, corners in particular, or the farthest boundaries accessible by passing through the openings. Thin long-lined cuts generate bright flashes, beams and chromatic blades on the ceilings and walls that add a delicate three-dimensional effect to the visual reading. They suggest many possibilities, depending on what the artist wishes to exalt.  A round window?  Suspended and ethereal ground? The softness of the background that borders on given silence?

Yet, light/color in Stefano Tubaro’s recent works is not only an “object” of perception, but rather something that cannot be exhausted in its phenomenon: it is a symbolic concept revealing a disconnected, internal time, in some respects meditative and spiritual.

Thus, in the image of Stanze fotogeniche/Photogenic Rooms, the event/mirror of the personal-intimate nature of his poetics assumes concrete form. Every authentic artistic inspiration of Stefano Tubaro, held in the most real tension, breaks through the limits of the given or assumed and ultimately gives way to that which has not yet come into being.

Alessandra Santin, 2023