About Skin propones circa 50 full-page shots by the Italian-Jordanian photographer Mustafa Sabbagh. Along with photos of landscapes, fashion, and still lifes, the portraits of people (both professionals or random individuals) reveal, above all, right from the first pages, the book’s true theme: human skin. In fact, far from the reigning and by now unavoidable practice of photo touch-ups, Sabbagh nonchalantly works among the glossy context of fashion photography, though highlighting subjects which celebrate, through sensitive research, the natural imperfections of the epidermis. About Skin therefore unveils – among stylized landscapes and languid flowers – a theory of moles, scars, reddened skin, veins, wrinkles, stretch marks, signs left by clothing: an atlas that, on the one hand, refers the observer to North European painting from the 1500s and 1600s (for example, Dutch still lifes and Nordic Renaissance portraits) and, on the other, to contemporary photos by Wolfgang Tillmans, Jurgen Teller, and Rineke Dijkstra.
Patrizia Silingardi writes in the introduction: "The photography of Mustafa Sabbagh is a limpid distillation, a precious crystallization: a highly exact technique, thanks to which one can restore the changeful emotional empiricism of reality. In the mad attempt of capturing the engulfing flow of time, the fascination of the sidereal, of the lenticular, of this aesthetics beyond the Alps - which from the ancient intuitions of the Flemish School unfolds in the current Scandinavian photography avant-gardes - follow one another in portraying a corpus of adolescent physiognomies imbued with rare lyricism. Customarily, this involves simple and modest, essential and minimalist portraits, though always diffused with a pitiless light upon implacable shots. Even though some swooning landscapes appear in the memory of a few cinema and painting masterpieces, the en plein air almost disappears. Having side-stepped all circumstantial contexts - only at times do accessories, rooms and fittings appear - what remains is the insistence of a flowing nullity, of a pale (back)ground, a stiff curtain that encloses the space, captures and obliges the subjects to the very near embarrassment of an up-close shot. And, in fact, as homage to beauté convulsive and perturbing carnality, the pose camera is customarily a sort of aseptic boudoir that captures the private poses and the disposition of the states of mind of controversial ephebic or Pasoliniesque dandies or lamented nymphs, lovely like Christiane F. or the Marquis Luisa Casati".
Mustafa Sabbagh was born in Amman, Jordan. He is based in Italy since 1979 where he took a degree in Architecture in Venice. in Venice. For several years, he has been Richard Avedon’s assistant in London. In 2007 he has collaborated with prestigiosa Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Since ever Mustafa has collaborated with magazines such as Arena, The Face, Vogue Italia, l’Uomo Vogue, Rodeo, Gasby, Front, Kult, Sport & Street, etc. Since 2004, he has taken part to differen editorial and exhibition projects (Bread & Butter, Berlin, 2004; Human Game and Welcome TO MY HOUSE, Florence, 2006; Lee jeans book, Berlin; Bepositive, Edwin, Forfex, Milano_ White, 2009; Carne, Milan, Superstudio, 2009). In 2009 he took part to Like-us, a travelling exhibition within Bologna Arte Fiera.