You never know when inspiration will strike. For Chicago-based professional photographer Freddy Fabris, it happened when he stumbled into an auto repair shop while helping his friend get his car fixed.
"Because of my painting background I've always wanted to re-create classic masterpieces, but I knew that in order to create something that would create a new dialogue on an old subject, there had to be a twist," Fabris says. "How could we tell these stories in a new context? How could we bring a little humour yet respect and homage the originals?”
The answer came on an otherwise ordinary day in an ostensibly ordinary place.
"By chance, I entered this shop where a friend of mine would take his car for repairs, and I fell in love with it immediately. There was this perfect balance of grease, stuff, chaos, and reality. Probably for the common eye it was just a messy car shop. To me, it was a set ready to go."
The resulting project, The Renaissance Series, went on to win several accolades, including 1st Place International Colour Award, the One Eyeland Silver Award, and APA Conceptual Award.
"The owner of the shop was crazy enough to love the ideas and the project. The rest of the cast is conformed by a mix of actual mechanics, actors, and friends. It took me a month to get the right people. It was not easy finding faces that would be believable both as Midwest mechanics and Renaissance characters.”
It is precisely that tongue-in-cheek collaboration between the classic and the modern that lends the series its humour and its unexpected gravitas. It is beautiful to see objects that are generally considered ugly lent the attention to detail that characterise the Renaissance aesthetic.
"When I first walked in the shop, I found myself looking up at a hanging hubcap, and it struck me, [this could be] the halo behind Jesus' head. I turned around and I saw this tattered aged spare parts catalog [and thought of] the book in "The Anatomy Lesson." Slowly everything started to fall in to place. If a guy had sandals in the last supper, we went with socks and slides. A vase in the original translated to a gas canister, and so on. The food on the table has more to do with the idea that this last supper was more of a lunch break, so we worked from there, and the ramen was just hilarious in a last supper context.”
The latest exhibits for The Renaissance Series include the Vogelsang Gallery in Brussels, the Urbane Art Gallery in Edinburgh, the Art Wynwood in Miami, and the AAF in London. Limited print editions are currently available here.