Edward Donato’s photographs are an enigmatic vision of reality, his pictures full of mystery, underpinned by a miasma as if a troubled spirit is in conflict with itself in every image.
For nearly two decades Donato has been constructing a deeply emotional visual language that addresses his former religious life – he trained in a seminary to be a missionary – and the surreal world of his native LA from which he draws many of the elements for his B movie aesthetic.
There is something wonderfully enchanting about these photographs, they are rich and bizarre, pull you into their strange world and demand to speak to you, keep you rapt in their spell, in the same way the photographs of Roger Ballen do. Here’s what Donato has to say about his work:
My black & white photography evokes nostalgia, both pleasurable and troublesome. The contained images emerge at odds with the history they seem to represent. In these works, familiar elements mark human relationships with morality and the natural world. Sometimes bleak and sometimes fanciful, these images actively disturb the expected balances of light and dark. Such photographic investigations result, in part, from my continuing reflections on my upbringing and religious training. A conflicted, and perhaps somewhat surrealist, perspective is brought to bear on worlds otherwise so clearly defined.
The son of a missionary father, I practiced photography as an adolescent by documenting missionary work in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia. I continued to photograph theological missions into adulthood and pursed the ministry himself; completing the seminary before turning to photography full-time.