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´Stick to your guns´- LUIS FABINI

´Stick to your guns´- LUIS FABINI

Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey

“Stick to your guns”. 

The notion expressed above serves as a starting point in a conversation with Fabini about his photography practice. If we defined artist differently, then there might be a wide variety of categories for people that work with the same media. Fabini could be also defined as a humanist as well as a visual anthropologist who recognizes the dimensions of the human image within past and present societies. Or maybe radicalist. One who had to purge art and politics, find them a new or right principles, starts with a manifesto and a blank slate. Talking to him definitely felt like sloughing off my acquired knowledge and going to drink at pure springs, clinging to first roots, in order to send history off again in a new direction. 

Cultural heritage and historical memory are two elusive concepts that do not escape his own photography- the uses and customs of the land The Man who Treads Upon especially. For him North and South America have been home to a network of rural societies and for certain if there are any boundaries between art and in life, this New York-based artist, wants to blur them, but he is not out to break them per se. He’s actually the opposite; conversations flow with Luis. It’s relaxed, like a siesta in the “campo”.

Luis Fabini Gaucho Can Pep Rey


You´re free. 

 I photograph from a place of editorial freedom. And yes there is something that cannot be tamed, it’s vital to keep evolving. 

I think it's also very visible in your photography. Maybe you can start by telling me, how did you get involved in a Gaucho project and why did you decide to photograph them in the first place? 

It is difficult for any photographer to find a subject matter that he can become passionate about, one that will nurture him. “Gauchos,” came to me during my meditations. I dug into my memories like an archeologist, excavating my earliest recollections in Uruguay, where I spent summers on an estancia--  galloping across the open range, the smell of the horses, watching the sunrise, the bonfire, the “asado”. The life of the gaucho was a mystique through which I could reconnect with my roots – the ritual of drinking mate, the rough hands and face marked by years of hard work, the profound silence in which he lived.

Luis Fabini Gaucho Can Pep Rey
Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey

Do you getmore enjoyment out of capturing a chance encounter, or out of carefully constructing a scene?

 My joy comes from relying  on my intuition;  from   making   contact with my subject, calling it a  human being, an animal, a tree or a rock and harnessing the natural light. In this way, I delve into work  welcoming the unexpected. I find the momentum within my heart, without ever over- powering my subject. You have to let life take over.


There‘s a rhythm in everything, I immerse  myself in situations where things are happening. 

 And that´s the feeling I get as an observer when looking at your photography.This people that let you in.. they didn´t feel awkward in your presence. It felt very familiar and it felt like you´re just presenting what´s in front of you, without stimulating or telling them how to pose. They are just there and feeling very comfortable with you. And I think that sort of comfort you can only create with people that are your own. I think that with Uruguayans / Gauchos, maybe because you are also speaking the same language, they felt untroubled with you. 

Human beings have much more  things in common than differences, we all have  families, lovers, friends, feelings... I approach everybody with  respect and authenticity.  I make myself available, I love  to cook and share a meal with them. 


Manhood, travelling, age, power of nature seems to be the most prominent topic of your works. What is your view on gender? 

I am all for gender equity.  I am shooting my project “Harvest”in Peru, in many family run farms women are the ones in charge.

Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey
Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey
Can Pep Rey Luis Fabini

These days living in NY you shoot quite a lot of industrial spaces as well, I saw some factories, bridges...

I used to have my studio in an old industrial building in Brooklyn. One winter,  I ended up living there in between trips. It was  one of the coldest winters ever in NY.  From my window I saw  the power of the blizzard hitting the Manhattan bridge and  decided to dive into it.  

How did you find yourself in NYC? 

Love  and work. I was shooting my project Gauchos  in Uruguay and  my photo lab was in NYC, so I travel quite often in between  with loads of film in my bag. I met my wife at that time, she had a place in Montevideo and NYC. I could come and go easily.

Luis Fabini New York Can Pep Rey

What about working with analogue or digital cameras? 

I switched  to digital a few years ago and never looked back... The tool you choose is up to you. The important thing is the work, not the camera .

Let's talk about creativity. What inspires you? Are these people? Moments? Weather? What makes you feel like ...ok today is a great day to travel or to take pictures of my neighbour. 

It’s a mystery and hard to explain. Everything is alive, everything matches and is connected, there’s  a natural rhythm everywhere and  I love wandering intuitively.

In terms of the body of work, what makes the difference  is consistency and determination,  you  have to persevere  if you want to move forward. The aim of my photography is to put the intangible back at the center of our attention, to bring awareness despite distance, race and language differences

So you were very much self-taught….

I was never  part of a system,  probably a reaction to my diplomatic family. Schools are good for some people not for all. I always choose  to  go off the beaten track. 

How can you trust yourself ? What if other people are telling you, oh that's not good enough. 

You have to be a rebel. Years ago Robert Pledge told me to stick to my guns, best advice ever.

It's a very brave decision. 

It ‘s inherent to the  work, necessary if you want to cultivate your  own voice.

What drew you to photography in the first place? Your dad? Was he a photographer as well? 

My dad was an aficionado and he liked to explore, slide shows on weekend nights were a family get together. He offered me a camera when  I was 7 years old  before we embarked  on a road trip   from Lima to the jungle crossing the Andes


Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey
Vaqueiro Can Pep Rey Luis Fabini
Gaucho Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey
Huaso Luis Fabini Can Pep Rey
Chagra Can Pep Rey Luis Fabini

Books by Luis Fabini

´Gauchos”- self-published book,  2012  Uruguay

“Cowboys of the Americas” - published in 2016 by Greystonebooks









Text by: Marta Marszalek 

Interview with Luis Fabini 

All photography rights reserved to Luis Fabini


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