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DOUBLE TAKE: photographer Juan Pablo Castro

You can view a structure or sculpture a hundred times and never really see it how this visionary artist does... that is, until you see it his way.

photos courtesy of Juan Pablo Castro

PLAYFUL by Juan Pablo Castro

Colombian photographer Juan Pablo Castro was outside an airport in Mexico when he noticed the sculpture seen in the image above. "I was attracted to it because I'm an industrial designer and good structure calls my attention," he recalls. "And also, the colors reminded me of a clown."

Juan Pablo's jovial spirit is contagious, and his unique way of seeing things is captivating. Playful is one of ten images that comprise Castro's debut gallery show at Ralph Pucci International. The luxury furniture company (headquartered in NYC with outposts in L.A. and Miami) has an ongoing mission to celebrate legendary talents while supporting emerging ones. After four or five years of using him as his showroom photographer to shoot new introductions and special events, Ralph Pucci selected Juan Pablo Castro as the first local artist to be featured in the gallery. "My first time coming into Ralph Pucci Miami, it was like coming to Wonderland because there's such a special vibe," says Castro. "And to work with Ralph and show my work here is a dream come true."

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST photo: Ricardo de la Blanca

Hardly a newbie, Castro is well established and experienced in fashion and commercial work. His images have been featured in Vogue Mexico and Elle Decor, and he has created content for such high-profile brands as Burberry, Omega, McDonald's, and Uber. But it is his background as an industrial designer that sparked the photographer's fascination with color and shape. In fact, he'll be the first to say that the essence of his bold, intriguing body of work lies in these three words: color, shape, and industrial.

A forward-thinking visionary and self-described rogue who lives life "in the intense," Castro's singular perception of the world around him makes his Ralph Pucci show "JOY" - which he hopes will make people "see something different, escape, and feel free" - a unique visual journey.


"I loved what was happening with the sculpture (which was red but I changed it blue) and the building behind it. I love 'retro-futuristic,'" says Castro.


While studying industrial design, Juan Pablo discovered Memphis - a design movement started in Milan in the 1980s by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass and his contemporaries, characterized by bright colors and bold geometric shapes. "I was in love," he says of the unmistakable style. "I liked its playfulness and how it could sometimes even look 'childish'." Castro describes this image as "futuristic, deconstructive Memphis."


This shot depicts a sculpture Castro found while walking through a Japanese neighborhood in Los Angeles; in his mind and through his lens, it is something else entirely. "To me, it's like the exit of a spaceship," he says.


Juan Pablo photographed this sculpture in Miami, approaching it every which way until he got the shot that was perfect for him. "I played with my lens until I found the right angle to give it my own interpretation while still respecting the artist," he explains.


This photo was taken while Juan Pablo was in Houston, Texas on a shoot for one of his commercial clients: the iconic, luxury writing pen brand Montblanc. "We were working with NASA on the launch of a new pen called 'Skywalker,'" recalls Castro. "In my free time I walked the city, saw this building, and just knew I had to photograph it."


Always the thrill seeker, Juan Pablo was in Costa Rica to partake in some extreme sports when a satellite dish up on a rooftop caught his eye. "I loved how the sky was looking that day, in addition to the parabolic on top of this country house," recalls Castro. The resulting composition represents what the artist says he consistently strives for in his work: "to take the reality of what we see every day and turn it into something more elegant and cool."


With this photo taken by Juan Pablo while standing beneath a bridge, the artist immortalizes what he remembers as one of the most beautiful days he's ever seen in his life. "It was all pink, and there was a rainbow. I had to stop and take a picture."

LIMITING (What You See is What You Get)

Perhaps the clearest illustration of how the artist sees things his own way, Juan Pablo stood underneath something ordinary and recognizable - the McDonald's "golden arches" sign - then photographed it from below, manipulated it green, and mirrored it to create this art image. "It's something people see every day, but not like this."

With his uncommon take on the commonplace, Juan Pablo Castro definitely gives us food for thought; he reminds us that some of the things we tend to take for granted might require another look.

Juan Pablo Castro is a featured artist at Ralph Pucci International.

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