When you hear about a 26 year old photographer, the first thing that comes in your mind is impromptu artwork that balances between naiveness and enthusiasm, with a spoonful of, sometimes unintended, good aesthetics. That is not the case with Ricardo Passaporte though. Based in Portugal, Passaporte definitely does not make art for the sake of it but instead, manages to combine visual sincerity with laudable concepts. His provoking, striking and above all, forthright photographs result from Ricardo’s journey through the theories of destruction, religion and inhibition. Open in numerous ways of self-expression, Passaporte connects with his audience through photographs, collages, film or even fire painting, a photographic lighting technique using fire as a light source. However, even when the medium changes, the general idea of Passaporte’s artwork stays the same: visuals can be intriguing but the concept should always be impromptus.
How did it all begin for Ricardo?
I do not remember a specific date, but since childhood I had a great desire to create or change things, usually by drawing or painting on the street. Later I started doing more reflection about my creations and directing them towards more specific areas.
At first glance, your photographs appear to be a collection of individual images, almost unrelated to each other. Is there a hidden message or do you avoid narrative on purpose?
My photographic work in general does not follow a single road, there are different phases. Sometimes I feel like it can convey a personal opinion while others I feel like I can explore new visual concepts that do not necessarily have a message.
Some of your pieces are undoubtedly provoking, visually and conceptually speaking. Do you mainly focus on the aesthetics of a synthesis or go for whatever suits the message you are trying to pass on? Which makes it on the top of your priorities list: visuals or concept?
The visual part only happens if there is a concept and the concept exists only physically through the visual part. There is no separation of the concept with its physical form. I can use photography as an aesthetic diary or a way to convey new concepts or feelings.
You approach the concept of sexuality in an honest and raw way, making it look quite natural, while at the same time you are not afraid to comment on religion. What is your perspective on the unorthodox and oppositional relationship between these two?
I try to address all the photos in an honest way and away from prejudices. The nudity and sexuality can be applied to actual concepts that I face in a natural way by the very fact that they have not been exploited to the extreme. I like to look at religion and sexuality in a raw form and with some irony.
Going through your photo series, I could not help but notice that in your first four collections, you have a certain directed approach on your subjects while after Photo V you decide to simply capture what’s out there, taking pictures of landscapes and still objects. What inspired this change in your art?
It all depends on emotional issues, my social life and the environment I am involved. I’m always open to capture new shapes and concepts, where the object / figure can be manipulated by me, or not, like a diary.
Fire painting is something we do not see everyday. What led you to experiment with this particular medium?
The fire paintings explore concepts and movements related to graffiti and vandalism. The destruction is a principle to follow. The speed of the movements with limited control is something that captivates me in graffiti and that I can pass along with the technique of fire. There is a good parallelism between them.
Yes, I’m always open to new mediums, if there is a good concept behind. I do not like to get involved with any medium just because of the medium itself.
For the past three years your work has been included in numerous exhibitions, in Europe and USA, making quite a rich bio for a young artist as yourself. Would you say it is easy for an aspiring young artist to build a decent career these days?
It is difficult, especially living in Portugal and with the kind of work like mine but I believe in other countries it´s easier. It’s not about the work though, there are other factors nowdays such as social or economic that weigh more.