The photoshoot that never happened:

Gonçalo Vaz / Luciano Barbosa

This project is about a photoshoot that never happened.

My mother has the wonderful habit of inviting to our Christmas dinner friends who have fallen out with their families. Last year she invited Gonçalo Vaz, whose rock star name was Luciano Amaro Barbosa. A very charismatic man, he would not even remove his sunglasses on Christmas day. I had to photograph him. And I did on that day, but he said he didn’t like Christmas. We arranged to set a new date for the shoot. 

I was fascinated, with his stories from London in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was charismatic yet discrete, with a unique sensitivity. It reminded me of my father’s, and I would later find out he was also an anarchist.

We exchanged numbers and planned to shoot at the university botanical gardens in Lisbon, where Gonçalo and his mother would go for a stroll in the later years of her life. I had it all planned out: the medium format camera, the portra film, the look and the clothes, it was going to be perfect.

A friendship grew and we were both very excited for our shoot.

I wished him happy birthday, to which he replied it was Luciano’s birthday, not Gonçalo’s.

I bragged to friends that I'd found a perfect subject, evoking London in the 1970s and the Portuguese music scene in the 1980s. I’d found an elusive character who was keen to be photographed by me. A perfect combination.

The spirit of the shoot was growing in my mind, but at the time there was no apparent urgency.

January was a hectic month. I was organizing a photo exhibition, which Gonçalo attended with his inimitable style.

(Gonçalo on the left and me on the right at Casa Independente, 30th January 2019)

When I finally got round to arranging our shoot, he told me he wasn’t feeling well, but that he would love to do it as soon as he recovered.

The day my mother visited him in hospital I had a cold, so thought it best not to go. My mother’s description is the image I never saw, and it still resonates with me. Even at his most vulnerable, his style was unwavering - not once removing his sunglasses. How I wish I’d documented that: an intimate shot in 35mm, with a 50mm lens. It’s incredible how the photos you never take stay in your mind forever; they are flawless, lacking only the power to be communicated to others.

We briefly spoke when he was in hospital, saying that as soon as it was all over, we’d have our shoot. We were both really looking forward to it.

Gonçalo died suddenly on the 2nd of May.

Luciano Barbosa was buried to the sound of their hit “Nagasaki Mon Amour”.

With this feeling that I should have done more, I became committed to salvage his legacy, his impact and the traces he left behind.

In a desperate effort to photograph the traces of Gonçalo, I asked about the iconic sunglasses. They were buried with him.

Repórter Estrábico / Luciano Amaro Barbosa.

Gonçalo was the leader of Repórter Estrábico, Luciano Amaro Barbosa

(Luciano Barbosa top right, José Ferrão top left, Anselmo Canha bottom left and António Olaio bottom right)

Formed in 1985 after Gonçalo returned from London, Repórter Estrábico are an influential, techno pop/rock band, known for their satirical lyrics.

As Luciano stated, “there are bands who search all of their lives to find their voice, but we found it immediately, maintained it and made it better.”

After a 10-year break while Gonçalo was caring for his mother, Repórter Estrábico regrouped, started playing live gigs again and released a new record in 2017.

Luciano had stated in an interview that “ I’m always imagining lyrics to go with the melodies”. And that is visible in the house.

Photos by: Paulo Pimenta

Gonçalo’s house

“The creative process never stops” Luciano Barbosa

I documented his house a week after he passed away, exactly as he left it, the day before it was taken apart.

All around his house were objects he made and assembled, revealing his unique sense of humour.

Every corner was packed with symbolism.

The master bedroom where no one slept

(Top left: Gonçalo in London in the 1980s)

(Gonçalo top right)

“Faced with the inadequacy of rationality to explain what matters, he practised an exhaustive assemblage and an undying love of the most subreptitious symbols of our shared human condition.” Ana Vitoria about Gonçalo Vaz/ Luciano Barbosa in Jornal de Notícias

Around his house were traces of his life and of the disease which took it.

The cd player on the bottom left which Gonçalo and his mother would listen to when she was ill.

Gonçalo and his mother Maria Matilde in 2014, photo by Rodrigo Vaz.

I discovered Gonçalo and I shared the love for dymo machines. Leaving messages of love...and warnings!

I was there for hours. It was hard to leave the house. Everywhere I looked, there were more significant objects.

Porto - 16th of May

As a tribute, everyone gathered to remember Repórter Estrábico’s charismatic leader at the Passos Manuel bar in Porto.

His brother Rodrigo brought Gonçalo’s objects from the house to recreate his unique universe.

The band members of Repórter Estrábico and all their friends read lyrics from their songs, and poems written by Luciano.

I met some of Gonçalo’s old lovers and many friends, many who had brought objects and small paintings he created.

(Top: Gonçalo installation shows his take on religion)

(Bottom: the video played at the tribute)

(Manuel Ribeiro and António Olaio, from the original formation of Repórter Estrábico)

Gonçalo Nuno Cabral de Morais Vaz

an unsung hero

7th of September 1958 - 2nd of May 2019

Luciano Amaro Barbosa

1st of April 1985 - 2nd of May 2019