About/Biography

Renato colangelo was born in Melbourne, Australia 1976. Colangelo works predominantly in the medium of Photography, large scale installations and video. He completed his diploma of Visual Arts photo media at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE in 1997 and degree in Photo media in at Sydney College of the Arts in 1999. He has had solo exhibitions, participated in numerous group exhibitions in Italy and Australia and has won various awards. In 2001 Colangelo was awarded The prestigious Anne and Gorden Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship.

In 2004 was awarded portfolio prize, Rimini, Italy. He received a residency from Sydney College of the Arts in 2011 and has held various workshop in Italy and Australia. In 2005 Colangelo and Darren Davision projecting a large interactive Camera Obscura 'Standpoint' for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image to be placed on Federation Square in 2006 for a show "Eyes Lies and Illusions". In 2011 Renato constructed another large scale Camera obscura from a shipping container for "Head On Photo festival". Renato continue's to exhibit and work on his projects form Melbourne, Australia.

Colangelo's work remains focused and concerned with cultural identity, social awareness, anthropology and experimentation within different mediums.

Hoffman Brickworks 1996

The Hoffman Brickwork, which was closed in 1993, was a large industrial site that had furnished the building blocks for half of Melbourne. In 1996/97 I was given permission to document the site.

The history that seemed forever encapsulated in the walls of the brickworks was the driving force behind the series of work I produced at night. The space was filled with a chilling uneasy air, a sadness of memories perhaps of the lives and aspirations of so many employees over its 100 years of operation.

Now what remains is a basic structure filled whit apartments which seems far removed from its industrial past

With this series I have been able to grasp a stark record of an industrial age echoing death, chaos, hard work and the routine of all that were involved in keeping the Brickwork’s fire lit.

Confrontations 1997

The series ‘Confrontations’ enabled me to create an informal family album filled with moments of my families lost love and despair.

The camera acting as my witness I was able to see through he surface of my immediate family coming to understand each of their feeling that had made them avoid confronting reality.

The images are printed small and bound into a concertina fold out book, reminiscent of the photo album.

Portraits 1997-Ongoing

In 1997 ‘Confrontations’ launched my fascination with portraiture that I still harness today.

By documenting people in their place I feel as though I can take with me a part of them, this series of portraits is constantly evolving.

Nightscapes 1999-Ongoing

Nocturnal photography with an open shutter has graced my images from the ‘Hoffman Brickworks’ series in 1996.

The ‘Nightscapes’ series is for me an interpretation of how I envision the urban landscape. By utilizing ambient and flash lighting nightscapes transform the everyday into a dreamscape.

Nightscapes was born from the desire to use the camera more like a canvas to paint onto, not having to abide by the photographic rule of the split second of time.

Abandon 2004

Explorations of abandon villages in Calabria, south of Italy.

The Camera Obscura ‘Standpoint’- by Renato Colangelo & Darren Davison

In 2006/07 we projected an installation of a Camera Obscura (Titled 'Standpoint') in Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia for the Exhibition 'Eyes Lies & Illusions' (Werner Nekes collection) coming from the TATE Gallery, London. 'Standpoint' is in the form of a semicircle with a radius and height of 3MT.

Over 3 month the Camera Obscura' Standpoint' was placed in the most central part of Melbourne, it received thousands of visitors and was considered (by public response) as a great success.

Upon the advent of the photographic image, one of the greatest discoveries was the Camera Obscura. Today it has become an icon, but very few of the general public has an understanding of how light travels.

Without prejudice or trickery the Obscura becomes womb like for the viewer standing inside, an instant sub-conscious almost primal relationship comes with viewing our familiar surroundings on a fundamental level (up side-down). It is our brain we use to orientate and our vision we use to observe, this is where the camera obscura makes its impact. We recognize our own repetition and by standing in the Obscura all is inverted, deceiving our orientation and the knowledge that we rarely question. This is how the viewer is hyper stimulated by the Camera Obscuras vision.

Samstag Project- ‘I Terroni’/  ‘Esuli ’ 2002

From the first moment I flicked through an old family photo album, it was clear to me the incredibly powerful role of the photographic image. The evocative nature of the old photos opened up another world to me, leaving my imagination to fill in the rest of the story.

The images in the ‘I Terroni’ series are the result of my research into my families sentimental past identity, discovering how they continue to hold onto their cultural traditions in Australia, and how their beliefs are entrenched in the past and re-identified in the present. 

Italian-Australians are participating in a continuous tradition, almost oblivious to the fact that their traditional culture and social structures have been modernized and are now all but gone. Their physical environment in Australia is an adoptive one, so they hold onto such things as family albums and decorative objects as sentimental testimony of a past identity.

‘I Terroni’, the collective title of this body of work, is a term widely used in the north of Italy to describe the southern Italians. It is a derogatory statement, suggesting that the southerners who come from mainly provincial country areas are in fact bound to the terra, or ‘soil’. When I recently exhibited the ‘I Terroni’ series in Italy, the title had to be changed to ‘Esuli’, meaning ‘exiles’. 

Renato Colangelo, 2010