Our ninety first interview in this series of intimate interviews is with talented photographer and artist Francesco Sambati from Lecce, a city in Southern Italy. Sambati’s photographs have visually excited me for some time. We have featured his work through many of our showcases over the years. His use of colour, shapes, light of course, ensure an almost hallucinatory effect as his creative, gentle vision, dazzles and exhilarates. Enjoy this illustrious interview with deeply honest words to boot.
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Wahlberg, Andrea Bigiarini, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, Marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Bleu Chemiko, Manuela Basaldella, Stefania Piccioni, Luis Rodríguez, Marilisa Andriani (@mitrydate) Mayte Balcells (@artofmayte), Nicole Christophe, Jennifer Graham, Cathrine HalsørPaul Toussaint, Carol Wiebe, Julie Denning, Kim Clayton (@berleyart), Karen Messick, Serap Utaş, MaryJane Rosenfeld, Paul Suciu, Susan Latty (@pause.and.breathe),John Nieto, Phyllis Shenny, Joy Barry, Max Lies Derdonk, Rita Tipunina, Violet Martins, Nizzar Ben Chekroune, Lynette Sheppard, Paul-Andre Hamel, Rejane Rubino, Susan Detroy, Rosalie Heller, Wayman Stairs, Cintia Malhotra, Anita Elle, Juta Jazz, Cheryl Tarrant, Hanni König Kaoru Shintaku David Gilbert Jana Curcio, Mary Lorincz Amado Ergana and myself, go here.
All images ©Francesco Sambati
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
Being a cartoonist: the passion for comics was the first and continues today. I remember that in addition to buying comic books, I read a lot of books about everything that was behind that fantastic world. In addition, my father was a professor at art school and passed on to me the passion for drawing, so I tried to combine these two great passions.
I’m not sure it’s the first, but surely it’s the first recognition I clearly remember: it was the first year of high school and I won the first prize in a writing competition, with a story I remember only that it was set in Venice.
My first job was also the first one I found immediately after finishing high school, accepted without thinking too much: I sold advertising space for a magazine, but it wasn’t the job of my dreams, always running from one customer to another that changed their ideas about their advertising every day. The positive side is that I learned to use the first graphics and layout programs.
Private or State school
Absolutely state school. In my country, going to a private school does not mean prestige, but it means that you don’t want to study to finish the state school and therefore in private school you are much easier because you pay.
University or Work?
I can’t give an answer to this question, because both choices are right, it depends only on the goals and talent that a person has. Those who study can reach a certain level, but it also happens that talented people arrive at that same level or even beyond! For example, if we think about it, students attend schools of photography, where the masters of photography of the past are studied, who have become masters without having attended photography schools!
It’s an extreme example, but it’s just to explain how I feel about it.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I don’t have a real mentor, I’m self-taught, but when I hadn’t started with photography yet, I downloaded the pictures that struck me most from the internet, until one day I realised that most of those photos were all taken from the same person! I discovered the author and looking at all her work, I wanted to get closer to photography by starting to take pictures: at the beginning I did it with the intention of having a style like her, but then I found my way. Her name is Aela Labbè, recently I managed to find her and write to thank her, she was very happy and she was very kind.
How physically fit are you?
It depends on the period, I pass from total laziness to extreme attention. I smoked a lot and then stopped suddenly for a couple of years, or from going to the gym all the time to not going there for three years. Currently, I train regularly so I’m definitely physically fit.
Ambition or talent? What matters more to success
I would definitely say talent, because ambition serves up to a certain point, but when it comes to facts and we need quality in work, we can go on only thanks to talent: ambition serves to prove, talent serves to do.
How politically committed are you?
Honestly little. I believe that the only way to not go crazy behind politics is to keep faith with one’s personal ideals and implement them in everyday life, rather than following a political trend, hoping that one day, perhaps, will win over another and then, with maybe even bigger, really change something.
Governments and political parties change so quickly, that the only thing they can rely on is the commitment of every single person in everyday life and I want to be one of these people.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
What is your biggest extravagance?
I don’t know if I can consider it an extravagance, because it doesn’t depend on my will, I was born like this, anyway I don’t have the sense of smell and therefore I don’t feel any kind of smell.
In which places are you happiest?
Despite the love-hate relationship I have with my land (Southern Italy), the place where I feel happiest is the sea.
In every seaside village (and here it is full) I feel peaceful. Obviously, all this happens only in the cold months, because in summer the tranquility does not exist: only when the beach is deserted, does it return to its true dimension.
What ambitions do you still have?
Currently I have no ambitions, I don’t feel the need. I reached a kind of balance that I try to keep constantly.
I have already taken several satisfactions and I like it so much, I simply prefer to enjoy every unexpected goal I reach: the fact that they are unexpected, make me even happier.
What drives you on?
I also ask myself often, in addition to the simple personal pleasure and the need to express myself, I feel that there is a reason that I still cannot understand. It is as if I were joining the pieces of a puzzle, of which, however, I do not know the final image: I can only wait to finish joining the pieces to find out what drives me.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
I don’t know, I don’t think I have achieved something that can be really satisfied. I live by the day, I’m not interested in doing something based on a hypothetical result. If I have achieved some success, I have not noticed
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Absolutely egocentrism and opportunism, two sides of the same coin.
If your twenty year old self could see you now, what would he think?
Perhaps he would reproach me and tell me “Why didn’t you make me passionate about photography as a young man instead of waiting so long?”
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
I’m not very attached to material objects, surely I’ve lost someone over the years, but if I think about it I can’t think of anything that feels the need to possess and if I lost it and I didn’t notice it, it means it wasn’t then so important.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
To be kind
Do you believe in the afterlife?
No, but I’d like it if there was something “after”
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