Last year, I wrote about Roberto Greco, a photographer whose works transcended mere pictures and involved actual Art reminiscent of oil paintings by the great Masters. With his camera, he could replicate the look of a Vermeer still-life or the textural feel of a woman’s naked skin in a Rubens. I was left speechless. Yet, there was also great range to his talent, one that extended to other styles of art like Surrealism, Warhol Pop Art, and the baroque. Many of those photos involve perfume, which is an original twist in and of itself. Instead of the trite, typical images of a Commes de Garcons perfume that you’d see in mainstream advertising, he had a more symbolic representation where Amazing Green was a living entity unexpectedly sprouting hair that was twisted to grow like living bushes, all in the candied simplicity of Pop Art psychedelic colours.
You can see that photo and many others in last year’s article, Part I, but I wanted to highlight Mr. Greco’s latest work today because I think he’s grown even further as a photographer when it comes to perfume, intersecting commercialism with art in a manner that makes him stand out in the field. I should disclose that Mr. Greco has since become a personal friend, but that is not the reason for today’s post. I truly believe, from the bottom of my heart, that he is brilliant, enormously talented, and should be the first choice of every perfume house when it comes to capturing their creations in print. In today’s busy world, people are flooded by images, data, and information, so they rarely stop to give something a second or third look unless it really grabs your attention. Roberto Greco’s photos do that. Others go even further in their impact. Some of his images (like the jewel-toned ones you will see below for Room 1015) have made me want to try a fragrance when I previously had zero interest — and I think that is the ultimate compliment to a photographer, not to mention a positive inducement for other companies to retain his services.
So, today, I’d like to share some of his latest work for Bogue, SHL 777, and Frapin, amongst others, as well as his more purely artistic, non-perfume photos. One series that you will see is a personal project that sought to portray the inspiration behind various Serge Lutens fragrances like Iris Silver Mist or MKK, and the women whom he sees as symbolizing those scents. Others range from editorial work for magazines or metaphoric art pieces for gallery exhibitions. In all cases, I’d like to thank Mr. Greco for kindly permitting me to share so much of his work, a lot of which is not currently shown on his main business website. He’s an incredibly sweet man with enormous modesty and much shyness, but he is a talented artist above all else and I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase his work.
So, onto the photographs, starting first with the new, upcoming trio of fragrances from Jovoy:
Photos for Bogue (MAAI), Room 1015, Les Liquides Imaginaires, and Frapin:
Work for SHL 777:
Editorial work for Edelweiss magazine, Switzerland:
Like every artist with depth, Mr. Greco goes beyond the confines of commercial work. His purely artistic creations have been shown in galleries, and some of them have been nominated or chosen for awards. I thought I’d share a few which caught my eye:
As both a perfume lover and an artist, Mr. Greco has enormous admiration for Serge Lutens. He created a personal series of photos to pay tribute to the great perfumer, where he tried to represent the symbolic woman embodied by one of Oncle Serge’s fragrances (like Iris Silver Mist, MKK, Boxeuses, etc.) via a combination of illustrated designs created by Olivier Schawalder and perfume photography. I asked Mr. Greco to explain a little about the series and his symbolic or thematic construct. He said:
I have a real fascination for Serge Lutens’ univers. It’s not only about scent, but also because he has the capacity to make me imagine a lot of things with simply the right word at the right place. He was a photographer, and I truly admire his visual work, and I think his photographic background is why he can explain carefully what he wants to Christopher Sheldrake.
With my series, I’ve tried to do the same thing but in another way: find the inspiration in each perfume/word/title and then translate them into an image. I worked with Olivier Schawalder who made the illustrations. I did the art direction telling him the story, for example which woman could be represented behind each perfume (dark woman, glam woman, dangerous woman, mystic woman, etc..) Then, I made the composition. I didn’t want to be literal or too narrative (the illustrations were enough for that). I wanted to use a dramatic light with some element to keep the woman at the main role.
That last one is quite phallic, is it not? It’s not my personal thing and, yet, I keep staring at it, as well as the woman pierced through the mouth in Vierge de Fer. I like the MKK photo the best out of the series, but I think whether or not one enjoys a particular piece of art is often a secondary consideration when assessing things. Art should first make you stop, pause, and look. Mr. Greco achieves that again and again with his work. It’s one of the many reasons why I admire his talent.
Ultimately, what Mr. Greco does in his photography is what perfume is meant to do as a whole: a seemingly mundane, concrete commercial product with a price tag transforms into something that evokes emotions and other worlds. Compare, for example, what Jovoy used to do for their fragrances — photos so typical of all the perfume houses, whether niche or mainstream designers — with the world created by Roberto Greco:
Which one are you more likely to give a second look? Which one is more original? And how many photographers are there who can make perfume bottles into something so visually beautiful and arresting?
I really hope you have enjoyed the photos. I also hope that you will feel free to share in the comments anything that caught your attention, as well as the reasons why. If you’d like to see more of Mr. Greco’s portfolio, some of his work is posted on his business, news, and art pages, though the first two don’t show everything at the moment and are being worked on. You might see more in Part I of this post. And, if by some chance, you’d be interested in hiring Mr. Greco for yourself, his rates are very reasonable.
I’ll end this post by sharing again a few of my favorite Roberto Greco images from the past, still lifes that caught my breath with admiration or made me smile:
Disclosure: All photos used by permission. Full rights are reserved to Mr. Greco, and nothing may be used without his express authorization. Please don’t steal and not give credit!