Lluis Artus.

“This is my workspace which is in my apartment in the center of Barcelona. On the table, the printer, the mac, the wacon tablet, a couple of art books (Renaissance Old Masters) and few note books where I write down ideas that could inspire me for future projects. On the shelves photography magazines and photography books, photography equipment brochures, all sorts of documents … on the left on the wall I have one of my favourite portraits.”

Born in 1965, in Sabadell, Barcelona the Spanish artist Lluis Artus is inspired by the colourful canvas of his native country.

FROM YOUR DESKS:  Did you take the portrait above your desk and why is it a favourite?

LLUIS ARTUS: Yes, I did this portrait last year (see left) and it’s one of my favourite pictures because is a very simple portrait but I think there’s a very strong cause in the way the sitter looks at the camera, there is an intensity in her eyes and pose that remind me of the portraits of the Renaisance masters. This portrait made me start a series of portraits of women I called “Donna Angelica” which is the topic of angelified donna or “angelic woman” created by Guido Guinizelli and perfected by Dante. The woman is seen as a messenger or a symbol of spiritual perfection can be achieved through love. While some features are enhanced idealized feminine beauty (blond hair, white skin, light eyes) that will remain for centuries prototypical.

FYD: After your deep-sea diving accident, did you feel with everything you witnessed under water; you might tell the same story from above water?

LA: I don’t think there was a connection between being a deep-sea diver and becoming a photographer, although my project The Beach has a funny twist. Those beaches are artificial and were built just before the Barcelona olympic games in 1992 and I was one of the divers who worked on the construction of those beaches.

Often I am confused for a policeman…quite few times I have to convince my “models” that I am just a photographer. 

FYD: Can you talk about the Barcelona beach culture? How to you approach your subjects?

LA: After living 10 years in London I went back to Barcelona and discovered those beaches the I worked in the early 90s now were filled with of sorts of people during the long Mediterranean summer, local and tourist alike were sharing the 4 km of beach just 10 minutes away from the city center. I decided to do a series of portraits on the beach. With respect to my “models,” I didn’t want to mock or ridicule anybody but at the same time my intention was to show the reality. I worked during three summers on this project and usually would go to the beach with my assistant and sit on the middle of the beach, and look for somebody that I found interesting. I would then approach the people and talk about my project, showing them examples of previous pictures, in order to get people to trust me. Around 70 % of people I asked agreed to be photographed.

FYD: All that skin. Does anyone wear sunscreen?

LA: That is difficult to answer, but I would guess most people do, as it’s very easy to get badly burn during summer. Often you see tourists from northern Europe with bright pink coloured skin.

FYD: What American and British photographers have influenced your work?

LA: I’ve been influenced by many photographers, most of them Americans or British. Some of my favourites are: Richard Avedon, Alex Webb, Alec Soth, Mary Ellen Mark, Bruce Davidson, Larry Sultan, Elaine Constantine, Chris Steel Perkins, Carl De Keyzer (from Belgium), Luis Sanchis (Spanish, who lives and works in NYC ).

FYD: With your Urban Culture series, did you ask your “models” to be photographed in the same manner you did at the beach?

LA: Many of these pictures were taken at concerts, tatoo conventions… and in these cases I would meet the “models” and just ask them. Other times I would see somebody on the street that interested me but I didn’t have my camera on me then, so I approached them on the spot and asked them to arrange a meeting on a location of my choice for their portrait to be taken. It wasn’t really intimidating for a funny reason. Often I am confused for a policeman, don’t ask me why, because I don’t really know what makes me look like a cop but the thing is that quite few times I have to convince my “models” that I am just a photographer. Eventually everybody believed me. All the urban shots were taken in Barcelona.

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