Roberto Tondi


I was born in 1964 in Zollino, near Lecce, half way between the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, surrounded by the solemnity of ancient Roman architecture and the exuberance of churches and aristocratic residences built in the distinctive Lecce baroque style.

Growing up in the presence of so much history and beauty led me to reflect on visual languages from an early age.

Thus, after training as a photographer, I continued to study not only the history of the great photographers, but also the history of art and new media: on one side Cartier-Bresson, Klein, Capa, Herwit and Scianna; on the other De Chirico, Boccioni and Balla.

I soon realised however that books would not be enough.

Having completed my studies, I flew to Israel for the first of a series of journeys that led me to train my lens on the places, people and stories of the entire world.

In 1989, on my way back from the Middle East, I opened my studio in Lecce, combining my work as a professional photographer for fashion, advertising, art catalogues and photo books for actors and models with research into new photographic languages. The latter has led me to progressively specialise in liquid reportage and narrative and emotional approaches, seeking to capture the identity of a place together with my own in a single shot.

After that fateful trip to Israel, over the years I have presented my vision of Jerusalem, New York, Miami, Toronto, Tokyo, Madrid, Amsterdam, London and many other places.

Obviously, I have also sought to capture scenes of daily life in historic cities throughout Italy.

In 2010 finally I inaugurated People, my first personal exhibition, presenting to the public a summary of my first 20 years of reportage (1989-2009), with a selection of 69 works, which can also be seen in the photographic book of the same name.

People represents a collection of portraits in a labyrinth of roads, a stream of emotions flowing through the distinctive ambience of each metropolis, captured in the instant they appeared before my eyes.

Obviously I did not stop there. I continued to travel and shoot, whenever possible, between one job and another.

In 2011 I began to teach traditional and digital photography and photography applied to multimedia for video makers in various institutions in the region, focusing on new media, video and audio for the transmission of a message, also participating in the creation of numerous audiovisual products.

In 2015 I added another important milestone when I was invited to act as a judge for the Mediterraneo Foto Festival in Lecce, at which I presented a personal exhibition called Est-Ovest (East-West).

This time I concentrated on the comparison in 11 images of two cities, geographically and culturally poles apart but both profoundly affected by unexpected and destabilising events: Tokyo, hit hard by the Fukushima disaster, and New York, by the tragic events of 11 September 2001. Ten years apart, the two cities responded to the destruction in very different ways, reflected in their approaches to Ground Zero, the desire to remove the scars and start afresh contrasting with the intention to consecrate a fitting memorial to the event.

Meanwhile, 2012, a new spark had unobtrusively set off a new line of enquiry in my research. In 2016, after an intense incubation period, it finally came out into the open with a cycle of shows and initiatives that are still in progress today.

Stone Painting is the alchemical transformation of my photographic imagery into something unrepeatable and unreproducible, in open contrast with the serial production typical of this medium.

Signs, traces and colours that were not previously visible are manifested with striking pictorial outcomes on the impressed image, sometimes to the point of erasing it altogether, thereby generating a hybrid language between chance and intention, between nature and artifice, offering many other readings of the reality that surrounds us.

And so, here I (still) am, every day immortalising beauty on photosensitive film in order to restore it to life once more.

December 2010, exhibition (People) with publication- il Castello CarloV, Lecce
May 2015, exhibition (Est Ovest) Palazzo Vernazza, Lecce, Italy during the Mediterranean Festival
June 2015, exhibition as part of the Respiro Photo Contest, Palazzo Turrisi ,Lecce, Italy
June 2016 exhibition (Stone Painting) with catalogue- Galleria Foresta Lecce, Italy
May 2017 group exhibition (Visionary Art Show) presso Palazzo Vernazza a Lecce
June 2017 exhibition ( Jerusalem) – Jewish Museum, Lecce, Italy
October 2017 exhibition (errARTE) Castello Risolo, Specchia (LE), Italy
December 2017 Double exposure (Tutto si trasforma) Lecce/Ostuni (BR), Italy
February/March 2018 exhibition (Stone Painting) fondazione San Domenico, Crema (CR), Italy
May 2018 group exhibition (Carrousel du Louvre ) Paris- exhibition held at the Carousel du Louvre Paris
June 2018 –Permanent exhibition- Jewish Museum – Lecce