Mario Giacomelli (1925-2000) is the photographer I never had the courage to be. His work exudes extremes of passion and flamboyance. He used to scratch his negatives intentionally, wipe the dust off them with his fingers in order to transfer a bit of himself onto them and he would touch his prints up with a blue ball point pen – no two were identical. He worked with the mindset of a passionate, flamboyant artist rather than a meticulous precise photographer. He didn’t care that the medium he was using to express himself was photography, all that mattered was that he was expressing himself.
Giacomelli trained as a typographer and came to photography relatively late, but he was also a poet and, later in life a painter. His images are raw and grainy and abstract, in many ways similar to Francis Bacon’s paintings in intensity. His portraits looked like landscapes and his landscapes like portraits. His collections had titles such as I Have No Hands Caressing My Face (Io non ho mani che mi accarezzino il volto), A Tale, Towards Possible Inner Meanings (Favola, verso possibili significati interiori), My head is full, mamma (Ho la testa piena, mamma) and Happiness achieved, I walk (Felicità raggiunta, si cammina). His work exudes a passion and intensity that leaves me breathless.
I cannot recommend his work enough. His official website is well worth a visit and Phaidon’s beautiful book is definitely worth buying if you are interested.