Southampton resident, commercial and fine art photographer Alex Vignoli has created visual artwork for more than two decades. His art has landed him in more than 50 exhibitions, alongside working with various businesses in both the United States and Brazil, and his talents have made their way into collections spanning 15 nations. Indy caught up with him.
Your father took photographs. Tell me about him and how he inspired you.
My father was my first inspiration to being a photographer. He was in the military, an athlete, a teacher of law, and dedicated father of six kids. Photography was a sporadic hobby, but his pictures made a significant impact on me. I think the biggest photographic moment was capturing his experiences while he was in the Brazilian Army as a peacekeeper in the Middle East. He was part of the 16th Brazilian Battalion on the United Nations’ first international mission.
I got my name as Alexandre because my father was in Alexandria, Egypt. While he was there, he photographed moments of the military events, some of his patrolling missions, integration with other militaries from allies, and sports practicing. Before he left for the U.N. mission, he was awarded as the best athlete student in the Brazilian Army School of Physical Education. Because of that, he went to see the World Gymnaestrada (largest general gymnastics exhibition) in Vienna, in the summer of 1965. He photographed and learned more about group performances. He returned back to Brazil with seven cameras, over 800 slides and a projector, films, and pictures.
What was the first unforgettable moment?
The first inspirational moment was watching my father show the slides and telling the stories about his experiences, his friends, places that he visited, dangerous missions in the war zone, and fun circumstances. He was a good storyteller with his pictures.
I lost my father, mother, and sister in a car accident in 1986. I think photography and stories of life experiences are part of the healing process. One of my first visits back to Brazil, I brought my father’s pictures and slides. Since then, I have been scanning and restoring them and sharing with my family on the holidays and birthdays. This is my way of giving back and being thankful to my incredible family. Preserving our history brings us together. It makes us stronger.
Your sculptures focus on print materials — books, magazines, etc. Why is that?
I started to work at my brother’s visual communication studio before I entered college in the same field. We produced a lot of printed materials for our clients and ourselves. It blew my mind the transformation of the creative process from our ideas to a paper. With that, I found my love for paper. Fast forward to now, almost 15 years, I got a large number of books from my former boss. I tried to sell and donate them. Nobody wants them except my brother, who had his studio gallery in Sag Harbor in the Main Street.
So, we started to collaborate, producing a few mixed media sculptures of paint over books with my prints on canvas showing pictures. We did only one exhibition for our collaboration at his gallery (it was a blast!), and we sold 80 percent of the pieces. The past five years, my goal was to create visual stories in a series using the lines and details of the books. For the first series, I thought something in high contrast, black and white, clean and light. I did the very first piece with the white telephone book. Oddly, it is now my best-selling image on prints.
Describe your process. Is it the same across all media?
The expression needs a strategy. For a series of artworks, I have a list of things to produce, follow the right amount of information about the subject, such as notes, make sketches, see my photos, clippings, movies, and so on. I take little breaks to be in silence; it helps to concentrate and opens a box of the infinite canvas. Just a kick for inspiration. Sketch pads are still nearby. During the production time, the music is essential to keep up the pace. I apply the same across all mediums.
Vignoli will be exhibiting in Miami again during the Art Basel Miami for the third consecutive year. See more of his work at www.alexvignoli.com.