Meet Antonio Perricone

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

On a drizzly Bank Holiday Saturday, I set off to the Southbank to meet Antonio Perricone, a seventeen year old A-level-student-come-photographer. We all take A-levels, but we don't all take photos like he does. We took shelter in the espresso bar of the National Theatre and ordered green and peppermint teas. I know, I know: how quaint. But spend idle days drinking herbal teas, he does not. Antonio had just finished an early morning shoot with up-and-coming musician Declan McKenna and was dashing around London, his camera as an extra limb. He lives out in the suburbs in Kent and 'wastes most of his money on train tickets'. 'Wait wait - let me finish this biscuit' he pleads, shoving more cookie into his mouth. What a diva!

A love/hate relationship with suburbia bleeds into all of his work: see empty tennis courts, rows of non-descript terraced houses, teens slumped on the curb. Antonio draws on pop culture's perpetual fascination with the suburbs: think Lorde ('We live in cities you'll never see on screen') and 'Palo Alto'. 'It's so overdone but so interesting. I love it - I love the suburbs', he says. I ask him whether he thinks his photography would have been different had he grown up in the city: 'Yeah, definitely. When I moved to Kent everything was quiet by 7pm... so you have to find your own things to do. And then you can appreciate how crap it is'. He captures his teenage subjects 'as they are: as teenagers' so keeps hair, make-up and post-production to a bare minimum. 'Unless they have, like, a massive spot on their forehead', he laughs.

Adolescence is that precious and monstrous limbo, still without real-world responsibility, but also without the Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card of some earlier years. Antonio's photos capture this fleeting space. Expect portraits of teenage angst and rebellion and you'll be disappointed. Bored rather than rebellious and idle over angsty, his subjects do not fit the clichĂ©, nor do his portraits either romanticise or demonise adolescence. Teenagehood is neither fantasy nor nightmare, but something of a daydream - short but sweet. Softly lit, with hazy neutral colours, his photos have a nostalgic, dreamy quality. I'll be interested to see how his work evolves over the coming years as he and his subjects mature.

I ask to see his cameras and he empties his bag onto the table: out fall a couple of books and a journal brimming with scribbles, collage, and drawings. We leave the cafĂ© and cross Waterloo Bridge, dodging puddles and splashes from the passing cars. We whizz round the Somerset House Courtauld Gallery, Antonio like a puppy in a pet shop. After some probing, he sheepishly reveals that one of his photographs just-so-happened to be displayed in Somerset House last month, after he made it to the top 50 of 173,444 entries in the youth category of Sony World Photography Awards. Topping that, he is soon to be featured in The Sunday Times' Style Magazine. 

So what's the master plan? I ask. He plans to apply for English Literature at university in autumn, but says he might still take a gap year: 'Alexa Chung says she took a gap year and it became a gap life. So that's the goal!'. 'But yeah I'd like to get a degree', he hastens to add.
 'My big plan is just to be able to afford a house and create stuff', he explains. Give it a few years and he'll be doing just that.

Check out his portfolio:
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And of course on Facebook:

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