John R. Pepper (Rome, 1958) is an Italian photographer.
Pepper attended Princeton University, was awarded ‘University Scholar’ and graduated ‘Magna Cum Laude’ from the Department of Art & Archeology. Then he attended The American Film Institute in Los Angeles as ‘Directing Fellow’. Recently Pepper was a ‘Visiting Artist’ at ‘The American Academy in Rome’ where he created his book ‘Sans Papier’ (more on Wikipedia: John Randolph Pepper).
He developed under the auspices of Ugo Mulas, Henri Cartier Bresson, Sam Show, John Ross and David Seymour, who spent time with his family. For thirty years, he dedicated himself to photography while directing both theatre and film.
The photographic exhibition ‘Rome: 1969 – A Tribute to Neo-Realist Cinema’ brought him back to Italy where, in 2011, Lanterna Magica Edizioni published his first book of photographs, ‘Sans Papier’, with exhibitions in Rome, Venice, Saint Petersburg, Paris and Palermo
In 2012 and 2013, Saint Petersburg’s Manège Museum put on a show of Pepper’s photographic works, and in Italy, in 2014, the Istituto Superiore per la Storia Della Fotografia published his book, ‘Evaporations’.
The exhibition was presented simultaneously at the Rosphoto State Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Officina della Zattere (14th Biennale di Architettura di Venezia), from where, in 2015 and 2016 it journeyed across Russia (Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Samara) to finally reach Moscow. From November 2016 to January 2017 ‘Evaporations’ was presented by Fondazione Roma and Fondazione Terzo Pilastro at Palazzo Cipolla in Rome.
Simultaneously with ‘Evaporations’ at Moscow’s Gallery for Classic Photography (2016), John R. Pepper exhibits his 1970s works, Rome, A Homage to Neo-Realism, at Saint Petersburg’s gallery ‘The Art of Photo’ (2016) –-where he subsequently had three other exhibits: ‘Sans Papaier’; ‘Evaporations’ and ‘Inhabited Deserts’.
Currently, Pepper has completed his next photographic project (and book) ‘Inhabited Deserts’, where he explores deserts and their effect on time, history and people. In this new work, one wonders if the presence of man has changed the landscape, or if that landscape, the desert, still bears a resemblance to what it was before the advent of man – pure and untouched. Is it possible that the desert, the ‘landscape’, has survived as a living, separate entity despite the presence of man?
‘Inhabited Deserts’ opened in Tehran in September 2018 (where Pepper was one of the first Italian photographers to exhibit since the Revolution), before going to Israel in November and then to Europe of the same year. In 2019 ‘Inhabited Deserts’ opened to great success in Dubai (U.A.E.) where it was extended until February of 2020 and then moved to the Venice and other venues in Italy before opening in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Subsequently it travelled throughout Russia ending in Moscow in 2020. Prior to COVID it was scheduled, in 2021 to be seen in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States and finally return to Rome, Italy.
For the last three years Pepper has been collaborating with Dimitri Ozerkov, head curator of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg for a large-scale exhibition in that museum entitled JOHN R. PEPPER’S RUSSIA (2022/2023) –a unique view of Russia seen through the eyes of a European photographer. Pepper has worked in Baikal region, the Komi Republic, Perm Oblast, Buryatia, Kamchatka and Samara, amongst others.
In September of 2021 John R. Pepper exhibits in Tbilisi at the Kolga Tbilisi Photo Festival and in 2022, after he returns from RTussia due to world events he produces a book on American painter Jason Middlebrook (‘Jason Middlebrook – Todi Odyssey’).
In 2023 the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro e Mediterraneo will finance a show Pepper will supervise in Palermo, Palazzo Malifitano, of Curtis Bill Pepper’s (father and renowned journalist for Newsweek Magazine) photographs of Sicily 1959-1961 before opening his own exhibition of ‘Bathing and Cleansing’ – new work on the physical, spiritual and ritualistic process of steam bathing and then swimming in frozen winter water that will be shown at Galleria Gianpaolo Abbondio, Todi.
Finally in 2024 Pepper will open his new work on bathing in Bologna – again sponsored by the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro.
After these exhibitions Pepper plans, in 2023 and 2024 to embark in his 1970’s WV camper And travel through South America.
This large photographic journey will take around 10 to 12 months and then become a book and exhibition that begins on the docks of Miami, through the southern states of the USA and enter Mexico from Texas to then travel all the way to Patagonia (temporary title ‘From Miami to Patagonia‘).
The ambition is to travel through the different countries that make up the South American Continent, exploring the different cultural, religious (pagan and Christian), social, political and street lives of most of the countries that make up the South American Continent.