Spotlight: Australia-Based Photographer Francisco Tavoni Creates Luminous Portraits Informed by Meditation and Philosophy


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About the Artist: Venezuela-born, Australia-based artist Francisco Tavoni creates color-saturated artworks that are the result of film processes being manipulated in new and unlikely ways. Tavoni’s most recent series, “Indentidad,” presents the spectral, abstracted silhouettes of women from the shoulders up, in radiant hues. The large-scale images can read as painted figures; in fact, the artist creates this effect by using a gauzy fabric to obscure finer details of the photograph. He then develops these images using traditional three-part chromogenic processes, which he prints onto treated cotton rag sheets, further mingling the mediums of photography and textile. The artist, who lives and works in Byron Bay, New South Wales, recently closed a successful solo exhibition at Lindberg Gallery in Melbourne. Called “Temet Nosce,” meaning “know thyself,” the show looked at Tavoni’s practice as a means for self-discovery, rooted in meditation and the stripping away of ego.  

Francisco Tavoni in his studio, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Francisco Tavoni in his studio, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Why We Like It: Tavoni’s photographs are luminous, giving off an aura or glow reminiscent of Man Ray’s famous solarized black-and-white prints. Of course, color is very much on the artist’s mind; his use of vibrant reds, oranges, and blues nod to the blazing sun and swirling seas Tavoni encountered in Australia, Venezuela, and Italy, where his family has its roots. Tavoni sees his works as underpinned by philosophical and meditative traditions, such as the Hamsa mantra, which focuses on the inhalation and exhalation of breath. For the artist, obscuring the details of an individual face relates to the essence of self and soul that exist beyond the conventions of contemporary society. These works expand beyond those interests, too, alluding to a wealth of art-historical references, from Color Field painting to Pop Art, and offering an exciting path forward for contemporary color photography. 

Installation view “Temet Nosce" at Lindburg Gallery, Melbourne, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Lindburg Gallery.

Installation view, “Temet Nosce,” at Lindberg Gallery, Melbourne, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Lindberg Gallery.

According to the Artist: “I want this work to influence the way we understand identity and how the layers of external social conditioning play in that role. Since this work is about identity, it made sense to do the work in portrait orientation, the same way as an ID photo or your passport photo is taken. Some of the inspiration comes from meditation states where I feel like I enter a clear space—the work is an interpretation of what it feels like to enter those states. The red and warmer tones are inspired by the soil of Caracas and the earth of Australia, while many of the artwork names relate to the sun and sunset. I feel like there is a bit of magic there in how we experience and connect those phenomena.” 

Browse works by the artist below.

Desde el Sol (2022)
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Francisco Tavoni, Desde el Sol (2022). Courtesy of the artist.

Francisco Tavoni, (2022). Courtesy of the artist.


Clara (2022)
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Francisco Tavoni, Clara (2022). Courtesy of the artist.

Francisco Tavoni, (2022). Courtesy of the artist.


Agua (2022)
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Francisco Tavoni, Agua (2022). Courtesy of the Philadelphia Muse

Francisco Tavoni, (2022). Courtesy of the Philadelphia Muse.

Discover more about Francisco Tavoni through the Artnet Gallery Network.


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