Both inspired by the arts, Nikita Schukin and Andrea Calandra, our readers picks #346, develop different aesthetics and narratives. One lets spontaneity speak for itself, while the other is inspired by a mysterious spirituality.

Nikita Schukin

“I have not yet come to terms with the start of my love for photography. It happened due to all sorts of accidents. On an unremarkable day, I went for a walk in the park and noticed an abandoned shop, there. Something prompted me to shoot it, although before that I hardly ever photographed it. At home, I watched these shots and they amazed me. I realised that I should not give up on this medium”, Nikita Schukin recalls. The 20-year-old artist is now studying photography and painting at the Abkhazian Art University. There, he’s developed a spontaneous approach, punctuated by colour and emotion. “I started by drawing storyboards, imagining scenarios. Then I understood that photography is an improvisation” he tells us. Inspired by impressionist and expressionist painters, Nikita Schukin creates complex artworks, where the nuances become “poisoned” and the compositions unique. Intrigued by portraiture, the artist places his models in mysterious settings, and proposes an immersion into a vivid and bright atmosphere. “This year, I decided to move away from what I usually shoot, to try my hand at street photography. I want to focus on compositions, and play on light and shadow. I want to infuse aestheticism in all my creations – it resonates Japanese culture, which I’ve been trying to imitate lately”, he says.

© Nikita Schukin

Andrea Calandra

Born in 1985 in Rome, Andrea Calandra divides his time between photographic commissions and personal projects. Narrative-driven, he travels and documents the cultures and stories he meets on his way. In Togo, he produced Voodoo: a parallel reflection, a project inspired by the rituals of West Africa. “Approaching the spiritual side of people is very difficult. Animism is just a word, a container for multiple spiritual realities, rituals, traditions, and ways of living. I decided to approach this notion as a genuinely curious person would, quite simply. During my two trips to Togo, I was amazed to see that magic was not simply hidden behind secret rituals, but that it hid behind every simple gesture of daily life. I then began to call it ‘African magic realism’, in reference to the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which reminded me of this atmosphere”, the photographer tells us. Raw, intriguing, his series reads like an ode to this unknown territory, these shifting moments, which blend together beliefs and reality. These repetitions of moments have immersed me more and more in this universe, while increasing my respect for this ancestral world”, he adds. Influenced by music, Andrea Calandra now plans to continue his documentation of voodoo in a hybrid project, mixing image and sound.

© Andrea Calandra

Cover picture: © Nikita Schukin