Architectural Minimalism and the Peace-Inducing Qualities of Expansive Space

In his most recent shots, Italian photographer Davide Urani expands on his preferred subject of modern architecture to incorporate a solitary figure into the vast open space characteristic of his work. He utilises this combination to create a ‘calm, composed moment in an imaginary inhabited world.’

Experimenting with composition, style, colour and subject, his work boasts an innovative quality, submerged in the world of minimalist art without falling victim to reproduced or monotonous aesthetics.

We talked with Davide and gained some insight into where he finds inspiration, his lockdown stint in food photography, and the unlikely similarities between his role as business executive and creative photographer.

THE PLUS: What does photography mean to you? Both in terms of individual reward as an artist and in what you hope to communicate to an audience.

Davide Urani: I’m not a professional photographer, so for me, it mainly means having a space of my own, where I can find a calm fragment of the day and try to make it special. That’s what is most rewarding for me. I try to communicate how powerful simplicity and calmness can be. I also like to leave room for imagination to whomever views my shots.

TP: Your images can be described as simultaneously composed and quiet, yet bold and striking – a difficult balance to master! Has this always been your ‘signature style?’

DU: I’m an architecture lover and I started to shoot modern architecture a long time ago, always trying to keep a certain simplicity or, better, focusing my photography on details rather than the whole, to leave space for the viewer’s interpretation and imagination.

TP: How did you develop your style to what it is today?

DU: After a while I felt I was missing something in the visuals, then I started to include a human presence. This combination has grown on me as I wanted to paint a calm, composed moment in an imaginary inhabited world.

TP: What are some of your deeper thoughts behind the solitary figure in an open space motif?

DU: I think that in any form of art there’s a touch of melancholy and I’ve also realised that solitude can be a poetic sentiment, I try to underline those notions in my work. The vast open spaces in contrast with a solitary figure gives me peace and pleases my eyes in terms of aesthetics.

TP: Your work exhibits a great variety in both subject and style; vivid, colourful shots alongside black and white, subtle images, spiralling staircases and busy apartment window shots, solo figures in the countryside, Icelandic glaciers and multicoloured rock climbing walls… What draws you towards your chosen subjects?

DU: This would be the most difficult question to answer. I need to “see” a picture in my mind. I could sit for hours waiting for the right time to shoot, for instance when I want the “right” human presence in a shot. But my curiosity drags me with no meaningful explanations towards anything, a colour, a shape, a crowd or emptiness.

TP: Is there anything you would like to experiment with in the future that you haven’t yet had the chance to?

DU: I find myself shooting many unrelated things just because I get attracted by a detail. Currently, I am experimenting with nature shots. I know it may sound trivial but you can’t fake nature; you can make a meaningless building look interesting with the right light or the right angle and you can make a portrait look good with the right equipment or post-editing. Doing justice to nature through photography it is extremely difficult.

TP: Have you been able to continue with photography during the pandemic, or how has the crisis influenced your creative work?

DU: I have not been able to travel so my photography has suffered a lot. My wife is a vegan chef so I  I gave food photography a try during lockdown. It was fun, mostly a game to challenge myself to shoot elaborated dishes in a minimalistic way… Not sure I will continue but it was a fun intellectual challenge!

TP: Alongside photography, you work as a business executive. How do these roles reward you differently, or are there any unlikely similarities between the two?        

DU: When I read your question I automatically thought the two roles were complementary with very little similarities. Thinking more deeply, I believe there are some aspects that are actually very similar: perseverance, creativity and innovation are key aspects for both. And I guess this is true for life in general since I always want to improve and to stay relevant in everything I do.

TP: Any takeaway for photography lovers?

DU: Perseverance. Don’t give up, shoot as much as you can until you find what pleases your eye and then pursue that path until you get better. Don’t seek “likes” on social platforms, seek what makes you happy with your work. And have fun!