In my photos I am often trying to represent a parallel universe, my universe, where the core part of my mind and hearth reside.
Torino, Italy based artist/photographer, Ylenia Viola, combines different photographs and quotes to create images that inspire otherworldly beauty with basic human emotions to remind us that anything is possible.
Fairy Tales Never Die is the name of your site… Your photography definitely belies fairytales… You focus on enchantment, dreams, beauty, love and nostalgia, as well as death and darkness… What propelled you to embody fairy tales in your photography?
In my photos I am often trying to represent a parallel universe, my universe, where the core part of my mind and hearth reside. It is a world open to characters and creatures that are not humans, where the laws of physics are a bit loose, where time is almost a non-sense. In this universe I keep my dreams, my nightmares, it is where my alter ego lives.
And so the fairy tales… because they put us in connection with the other part of ourselves, in this parallel universe, the part that sometimes we try not to listen to, the part that provides us the hint of extraordinary. Fairy tales tell us that the impossible can become possible, the unachievable can become achievable and that magic and happiness can be reached.
Each of your photographs tells a story and are accompanied by a quote, either one of your own or from a famous author, artist, story, opera, etc. Do you choose the quote before you decide on your images or vice versa?
Sometimes photos are inspired by a music, sometimes by a book for example. The realization of a project can take multiple avenues. In some cases, I start from a story as I recently did in the project A.D.A.G.I.O, a photo-graphic novel that I wrote and then illustrated using specific pictures. It is a combination of shootings of a model made in studio as well as pictures of herons that I shot on a very early morning on the river in my town, Torino.
In other cases, I mentally “build” the picture I have in mind and then once is finished I try to find a quote that provides additional value to the opera.
Once the photograph is taken, how do you manipulate it and do you use other mediums in your images?
The photo is never the starting point; the shooting session comes after a long preparation and conceptualization process. Typically I don’t use a single picture for my photos; it is a combination of different pictures merged together. So, after collected the pictures and selected the ones I need, I typically use Photoshop to combine the different pictures into one. Often once the image is done, I use specific textures for the final editing, many of them prepared by me with the help of watercolors, acrylics or oil colors. I sometimes use tiny crystals, glitters, feathers or small objects of any kinds for my textures or collages.
Your work has an ethereal feel to it. You add wings to many of your models and use images of birds often. What do wings represent to you?
First and foremost wings for me are the expression of sublime beauty. Humans with wings would reach esthetic perfection.
Wings are expression of power, the fly, the large distances, the elimination of barriers. My characters have wings because they belong or they have learnt how to travel to this parallel universe and are special people. Let’s not forget, “angel” means “messenger”, able to travel through different dimensions.
In your project, Fragments, your pieces have titles such as The Heart, Kiss, Tenderness, Encounter, Solitude, Languor, Jealousy, Gossip, Obscenity, even Zero or The End… You seem to be focusing on pure human emotions, behaviors, and conditions; whether good, bad, or ugly… How do you find and create beauty out of even the darkest parts of the human experience?
I believe beauty is an ethical value. I am not talking about beauty under the standards of a certain culture or period of time, I am talking about the intrinsic beauty of a human being. Beauty that can be expressed in love, or during a though time, or in jealousy, or in suffer. When a human being becomes the expression of many others in the same state, his/ her intrinsic beauty comes out and this is what I am trying to represent in my pictures and in the Fragments project in particular.
Have you found that because you are able to inspire beauty out of somber feelings and emotions that your work inspires hope in people?
This is my goal and my desire. However, I can say that I have been working with many people in different projects and it has always been a way to share enthusiasm, hope and energy. And I did some work for a Cancer Research Institute to express my support and give hope and positive energy to people affected by cancer.
What are some other memorable reactions you have gotten from people regarding your artwork?
Often I found myself in this embarrassing situation where people, especially in the exhibitions, but on IG as well, ask: “what is this… a painting?! or…” which is sort of embarrassing moment as I consider these photos of course but between the hand made textures and the digital processing, sometimes is hard to explain. One day at an exhibition I saw a woman crying while watching one of my pictures of angels. She said it was exactly like she imagined hers. But, in the end, I cannot also forget some expressions of dear friends of mine that saw some pictures of fairies and went completely ballistic asking, “how can you even think of that….”. Thinking is actually the most beautiful part for me.
Ylenia Viola – FairyTalesNeverDie
I have always been fascinated on how light plays with the world around me and how everything changes during the daylight, in the dark of the night, or in studio. This magic light, that softly touches, or moves or hides or highlights objects or bodies and everything becomes a new thing. I found myself literally enchanted watching a drapery, a movement, a shadow, with my mind going into another dimension. Thinking of capturing these special moments is the natural consequence.
My passion for photography is linked to this process: taking inspiration from reality and transpose it into my imagination, applying “my” light, “my” thoughts, “my” world. For this reason I only work with my pictures, first conceptualizing them, then taking a set of shootings and then processing them to add my filters and emotions.
In the end, my photos represent an imaginary world. Often populated by fairies and other magical creatures. Oneiric pictures sometimes, suspended in times and spaces often undefined, combining situations that are space/ time paradoxes.
I work mainly on social networks; it is my universe and my core communication platform. As soon as I finish a project, I “need” to post it immediately, getting comments from followers and use them to grow and expand my work and my passion.
I had pictures at exhibitions organized by Vogue, or at Paratissima in Torino, or in other galleries nearby. Meeting people at these events it’s an opportunity to share and to view my job from different perspectives. Certainly an important moment of my job.