Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos began his career as a photographer at the beginning of the 1980s.
Though he previously gathered extensive experience as a photojournalist, his artistic work is characterized by fictional imagery, which he derives from elements of reality.
Cássio Vasconcellos’ photography highlights our society’s excessive consumerism, the abundance of products that flood our everyday life, the uniformity of architectural structures that surround us and the elements that have become emblematic of our culture. His work also explores the magnificence of nature with landscape images like those from the series Viagem pitoresca pelo Brasil (2015), with which he joins the long-standing tradition of artists who have attempted to capture the grandiosity of Brazilian flora. His works embody the mysticism of the country’s sublime, untamed jungles, creating images that confront the spectator with a reality that is too large for us to comprehend.
Vasconcellos has published several monographs of his work, including Brasil visto do céu [Brazil seen from the sky], Editora Brasileira, 2017; Panorâmicas, DBA, 2012 and Noturnos São Paulo [Nocturnes São Paulo], 2002.
We spoke to him for a new and candid interview.
1. You started your career as a photographic journalist. When did you move into fine art photography?
I started photography at an early age when I was 15 years old. Since that time, I have dedicated myself to fine art photography, and by the age of 19 I had already participated in exhibitions in museums around Brazil such as MASP (Museum of Art of São Paulo), MAM-SP (Museum of Modern Art), São Paulo Cultural Center (São Paulo Cultural Center) and MAM-RJ. In parallel to this, I also worked as a photojournalist.
2. What and whom inspired you to be a photographer?
Photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, Geraldo de Barros and Man Ray inspired me at the earliest stages of my career. However, in addition to photography I was inspired by artists like Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte, Anselm Kiefer, Lygia Clark and filmmakers like Fellini and Buñuel, musicians such as Philip Glass.
3. What is your favourite time of day to work?
When the work is more mechanical, I prefer it in the morning, when I'm more relaxed. When it's more intuitive and thoughtful, I prefer to work at night.
4. You are well known for your architectural skylines and aerial photography of cities such as Shanghai and New York. Which was your most challenging city to photograph?
The most challenging city to photograph is my own city, São Paulo. Due to its extraordinary size, its contrasts and constant modification, it seems that it is a place that always presents new angles, approaches and questions.
5. How did the Mars series come about?
The Mars series appeared on an unusual helicopter trip I made to the Atacama desert in Chile. It was already a place that I knew and that I am passionate about, with a very unique beauty, and from above I realized that this desert looked very much like another planet - so I highlighted the reddish colors to make it look like Mars!
6. You have worked with an amazingingly diverse selection of clients. What sort of commissions have you most enjoyed?
I always prefer to take aerial photographs for my commissioned works.
7. Finally, If you could invite 7 people from history to dinner, who would they be and why?
This question reminds me of Woody Allen's wonderful film, 'Midnight in Paris'! My selection could be in one of those scenes - I'd inclide Man Ray, Buñel, Picasso, Matisse, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. And then I would add Billie Hollyday. What a dream!
Discover our collection of Cassio Vasconcellos images.