Augusto De Luca, (Napoli, July 1, 1955) is an Italian photographer and performer. He has taken the portrait of many famous people: Renato Carosone, Rick Wakeman, Carla Fracci, Hermann Nitsch, Pupella Maggio, Giorgio Napolitano, etc. He is also known as GRAFFITI HUNTER. After his classical studies, he graduated in Law.He became a professional photographer in the mid 70’ies. He dedicated himself to traditional photography and to experimentation with many photographic materials. He is internationally known and his exhibitions have been held in many galleries and Museums; he has made commercials, record covers and photo books. His photographs are kept in public and private collections such as the International Polaroid Collection (USA), the Paris National Library, the Rome Municipal Photographic Archive, the China National Aesthetic Arts Gallery (Beijing), the Charleroi Photography Museum (Belgium).
Since 2005, after I had been living for some years in Rome, I came back to Naples and became aware that the walls of the city were covered with coloured drawings on paper that reminded me of Keith Haring, Ronnie Cutrone and Kenny Scharf . I was stunned. I knew nothing of “Street art” yet. I thought it was just a juvenile form of art, as I did not know that it was a specific artistic movement.
I started collecting graffiti because I liked them and because I knew that I could preserve them from wear that over time would have marred them. I must say that when I removed them they had already stayed in place for a while and had worn out a bit so whenever a sticker would not come off I pasted it very accurately on the wall, thus preventing it from crumbling in a very short time. At that point I started to go “hunting” with my wife Nataliya all over the city carrying a stepladder. I also restored many pieces; I often coloured again the missing or ruined parts with the same paint. In this way I have collected quite a lot of artpieces that are representative of a precise historical period of Street Art.
Then Luca Borriello from the National Observatory of Writing came to see me at home and was struck by my unusual collection, that he described to a journalist from “IL MATTINO” who fell in love with my story and asked me to give her photographs recording the whole PROCESS. All of a sudden a whole page article is published under the heading “The Graffiti Hunter”.
Immediately after that I started to collaborate with IABO, the writer, and we made the clip “Iabo apprehends Graffiti Hunter”.
At a certain point I became aware that I had stored quite a huge mass of photographs and videos that documented my ACTION so I decided to put it on the Internet on many pages, sites, blogs etc., which triggered the second phase of the operation, the most important and successful one: “The world of street art revealed to everybody”. The concept was that of continuing the performance by enhancing Street Art, bringing it to everybody’s house via the INTERNET trying to raise attention. This process was artistic, yes, but it was also becoming popular.
At the beginning the writers pointed an accusing finger at me; being unaware of the nature of my experiment, they accused me of the theft of their art work. Then attention mounted and my Internet pages were much visited and those who were against me started to side with me. Many writers and street artists say: “Go on like this, at least we have someone who speaks up for us”. The favourable moment came when the Government has started to fight against these artists , stiffening penalties for those who “paint over the walls”. From then on my performance has remained the only possible answer that writers could give to the establishment. I realized that many people knew nothing about Street Art and many of those who believed that those pieces of paper glued to the walls were rubbish have now changed their mind, things are changing, initially I was “graffiti hunter”, now I have become the “champion” of street artists. This process started with initial dissent and dissent is often more important than consent since a clash gives rise to discussion, this was the provocation I wanted to convey by this performance. Discussion is important because by word of mouth people learn about street art. Graffiti must be enhanced. People watching me when I remove them from the wall get curious. PROVOCATION leads to discussion. What comes out is not important, it is talking about them that counts. Talking about the performance means talking about street art..which is precisely what I want. Street Art is seen as art in its own right, just think of the numerous International museums dedicating big exhibitions to this genre. It is important therefore that it comes to be known and acknowledged by everybody since it is for everybody.