Comparable to a musical oeuvre with a diversity of instruments, Rahi Rezvani combines his images to produce a harmonious symphony. Conceived as an exhibition, his series represents a composition made up of different faces, each with their own character and their own story.
What makes a good symphony for you?
I originally come from Iran, a country with a deep and rich culture, where poetry holds immense significance. The title, Symphony of Faces, is metaphorical and certainly influenced by my cultural heritage. Creating images is like orchestrating a symphony, using a diverse arrangement of elements, and blending them into a singular emotion and spirit. Just as in a symphony orchestra. The process of photography mirrors this orchestration, wherein the composition of images unites various elements into a cohesive feeling and story.
How can music be transferred into faces, or the other way around: to what extent do faces carry symphonies?
Music is one of my greatest sources of inspiration. Particularly when the darker aspects prevail over the brighter ones. The interplay between darkness and light is a dynamic I find deeply intriguing. I can’t quite explain why the darker aspect occasionally takes precedence, but it has always been an integral part of my artistic identity, even though I also hold a deep affection for light. In this exhibition, the diversity of faces, various lighting conditions, backgrounds, and, at times, completely different lenses, collectively represent the symphony.
How did you find your faces?
A significant portion of the faces and subjects I capture with my camera are found within my immediate environment, which extends far beyond my physical location, encompassing people and places from around the world. I’ve been fortunate to have inspiring individuals around me, such as dancers, choreographers, composers, actors, and diverse performers. I’ve also had the chance to photograph a varied array of faces that extends beyond this circle.
Where exactly did you shoot and according to what criteria did you choose the places?
I capture photographs in various locations, because it’s primarily about seizing the moment. I try to be an artist who uses different tools to craft a unique visual language. This means I create portraits of dance, I portray fashion and more, but I am neither a dance, fashion nor a singular type of photographer. I resist being confined to a specific category. I switch between studio settings and natural landscapes, based on my instincts and feelings at the time. Describing the moment is often challenging for me; when I hold the camera, my thoughts cease, and I act instinctively. Sometimes, this moment occurs on a stage, behind the scenes, in my studio, outdoors in natural daylight, or within a specially constructed set.
Your pictures look elaborately staged. How do you plan your creative realization of a picture?
From what I’ve come to realize, even if you meticulously plan every detail – from the lighting and mood to the equipment – there’s always my extra gut feeling that needs to come into play. All those preparations can shift in the blink of an eye when I finally see my subject, illuminated by the light or setting I choose. It’s a rather nerve-wracking process if you don’t have the courage to adapt in the final moments. I find myself always making numerous changes in those critical last moments, because my thoughts and emotions can evolve when the lighting or set isn’t aligning with my initial vision.
How important is the artistic process for you in photography, and to what extent is a Leica camera the right tool?
For me, the pleasure in the artistic process lies in initiating, conceptualizing, visualizing, capturing through photography, and then undertaking the development and printing stages in my own studio. When the moment of the shoot arrives, I switch off my brain and allow the rest of my body to take over. Everything I glimpse through the viewfinder and choose to capture is a challenging attempt to conjure magic. Having the appropriate equipment is like a painter choosing his or her brushes. In essence, my relationship with the Leica M and its lenses is beyond technicality; it’s a deeply rooted emotional connection. It echoes my feelings, captures my thoughts, and brings them to life. It’s not just about the optics; the camera is the storyteller that paints my narratives with precision and artistry.
Sometimes in your pictures the faces are not completely visible, but covered, veiled – what are you expressing with that?
My aim is to provoke questions and contemplation. I consider that faces not always being completely visible isn’t about concealing a secret; it’s an attempt to perceive human faces as more transformed, preserving an element of mystery. Simultaneously, I see this as a means of creating a unique form of beauty. Just as traditional beauty can exist, so can the beauty found in the rawness. I endeavour to reveal different facets of myself, which can encompass both raw honesty and beautiful aspects.
How does your choice of colour support the expressiveness of your images?
I don’t confine myself to either black and white or colour photography, although I do have a preference for certain colours and black and white at times. My feelings and inspirations change frequently, sometimes even daily or weekly. I resist limiting myself to a single colour palette or style, because I have a strong aversion to replicating my own work, even if it may lead to success. My primary goal is for people to identify with my work through the emotions it conveys and the feelings it evokes in them.
Rahi Rezvani is an Iranian-born artist based in the Netherlands. As an alchemist who pours his soul into his images, he is constantly searching for the chemical reaction that can take place between him, the shutter of his camera and his subject. Whether photographing ensembles, world-famous artists or everyday obsessions, he works instinctively. His persistence and humbleness allow him to capture the unique energy that arises when he and his subjects come together. In each image he unlocks both the light and the dark. Rahi shows how they merge harmoniously, revealing the way in which light emerges from the beauty of darkness. Find more about his work on his website and Instagram channel.