VENICE | BEYOND THE MASK
Adriano Henney (b. 1953) was born in the Veneto region and raised in England. His interest in photography started when playing with his father’s camera and became a hobby. After a research career in medicine, he has developed his skills further and is now dedicated to photography.
His main interests are landscape subjects, where water is a feature. “The overriding motivation for me to photograph is an emotional connection with the subject.” His journey in photography has been in part a therapy, and his style has evolved to be contemplative, conveying a sense of place and, possibly, escapism. He captures fleeting moments that have triggered a visceral response that he wants to recall. “My photographs evoke a calm, tranquil mood, inviting the observer to pause, think and engage with the subject, sharing my emotional connection, and even to picture themselves being there”. Henney believes that this is best achieved in black and white, presenting the essential beauty of the subject. “The absence of distracting colour invites the viewer to complete the picture for themselves, allowing them to create a very personal interpretation and connection.”
A major focus of Henney’s attention as a photographer has been Venice. “I have always loved the place, from the very first visits with my uncle, a professional artist, who worked there and showed me a city that contrasted with the one pored over by transient tourist hordes”. These early experiences laid the foundations to his enduring love of this extraordinary city, built on stilts and paved with trachyte stone slabs, mined from the Euganean Hills close to the town of his birth.
“Despite many visits during family holidays over the years, only recently have I returned and observed La Serenissima very differently as a photographer.”
Returning now as an artist, reconnecting with his cultural roots and the place that holds strong emotions and memories, he calls on those personal experiences to make photographs that build an alternative vision of the city to that commonly presented. He combines immediately recognisable subjects with quiet, mysterious places ‘off the beaten track’, aiming to capture the soul of the city within the gradual, but unrelenting erosion that appears to be its sad fate.
“Beyond the Mask” presents black and white pigment prints with an alternative to the typical vision of the city. Masks have been part of Venetian culture for centuries and are central to the traditional costume worn during Carnevale.
Here, “The Mask” is applied as a metaphor to the city itself: a mystical and magical place, whose true identity remains largely invisible. Despite its fame and popularity, the Venice that belongs to the residents tends to go unnoticed, hidden in plain sight behind a metaphorical mask that diverts the attention to what is immediately and readily visible: the majesty of its buildings and architecture, and the opulence of its art and antiquities. The true Venice lies behind all this, largely unseen.
The magnificent combination of grandeur, beauty and decline is what grabs attention; but what lies beyond the visual clichés, and the chaos and confusion of the bustling crowds that distract the eye? The soul of the city is in those everyday places and scenes that may lack the visual impact of the popular attractions, but where beauty also lies.
These photographs look beyond the popular attractions, to where the true fabric and soul of the city lies hidden, and where its fundamental fragility is unmasked. The exhibition aims to raise an awareness of the real Venice, both seen and unseen, by capturing the essential beauty and emotion in those everyday places that make the city and its inhabitants what it is, as lived by those dwindling numbers of residents that remain today.
“Venice is my Alma Mater, not academically, but emotionally and culturally. She has become my photographic muse and I invite you to share my deep love of this city through my photography.”