Italian photography never disappoints: years pass, and new names are added to the landscape of talent that is constantly emerging. The photographic language belongs to our iconographic tradition, showing health and innovation, aesthetic elegance and pictorial quality. When your roots start with the Bragaglia brothers, Luigi Ghirri and Franco Fontana, Mario Giacomelli and Gabriele Basilico, Guido Guidi, Massimo Vitali and Olivo Barbieri, you know that something magical circles the Italian scene, deeply rooted in 14th-century painting, the Renaissance and the Baroque, Canaletto and Futurism, the Metaphysics and Mario Schifano, Italian photography is always interwoven with our painting tradition, with the colors of our landscape, our uncommon light, the aesthetic of ruins and the Impressionist quality of our marvelous sites. Italy is majestic mountains and crystal clear seas, soft countrysides and historical cities, medieval towns and dreamy islands, ghostly plains and overhanging coasts… a country that has painting in its DNA, a patchwork of perspectives that guides the gaze beyond the obvious appearance, discovering plausible but non-definitive angles. Italy is the dizziness of the Mediterranean and the sculptural solidity of history, a crossed alchemy of lights and prospects that asks for a photographic completion, a pictorial moment to be captured in the print. Note the names that follow, representing the right balance between a sense of history and contemporary focus. They have gained experience looking at the world as an iconographic revelation. They don’t have a documentarian perspective, but try to capture what comes before the “document”, the unexpected, the sacredness of everyday life, the vertigo of the senses.
FRANCESCO BOSSO Many expert eyes point to the talent of Francesco Bosso. His conception of the scenic landscape has the harmonious spirit of romantic painters, such as Caspar David Friedrich, metabolized and sized on the weight of contemporary photography. Bosso prefers the black and white module, made of multiple variations of gray and intermediate tonal scales. His expression exists in a picturesque mode, inside nature’s powerful and uncontaminated landscape. His lengthy and methodical visual is the product of long waits in chosen locations, of precious materials in which to print, of a technique made of infinitesimal calibrations. The result of these cycles is a suspended voyage, a gaseous stadium of the gaze, pure abstraction in the power of the path taken. Bosso seems to design with rarefied atmospheres, giving density to the air, to the sky, to the water’s surface… His locations are transformed into an alien limbo, void of human presence, a floating meta-world with suspended reality.
GIUSEPPE RIPA The consistent rigor of black and white continues with Ripa, modulated through full, vibrant ranges on the end of a mutant light that shapes the contours. It is the light that changes the rules of the game and expresses the form’s code, the ambiguity between real and imaginary. A light that is the embryo of the image, inexplicable and almost unconscious, soaked by the night and ancestral lighting. Ripa takes photography to its archetype, to a universal purity, by going back to a pure, original light, which is abstract, subjective, retinal. It seems to say that the specific sites don’t really count, but the eye, the cognitive approach, the emotional disposition: and all of this means to photograph an image with the imagination, remembering that reality doesn’t exist but only a multiplicity of interpretations of what is real. Every cycle of the artist is a narrative history, a landscape film divided into autonomous but sequential chapters, as if a surreal editing had imagined the steps of a dreamed and fragmented journey, similar to our eye when it is confused by the stimuli of a metropolis in the morning.
CARLO D’ORTA Now we are in the methodical purity of color, within figurative research that uses a full range of possibilities in architectural terms, playing on contrasts and volumes, almost pulsing the elements of a building or an urban skyline. D’Orta reaffirms the centrality of a look that locates details: “Biocities” is the confirmation, a work about the contemporary architectural aspects in the production cycle of the functional city. The artist’s eye thinks by modular patterns, similar to a painting created with minimal, geometrical strokes and a vibrant chromatic scale. An imprint that has reached the volumetric form, with modular installations in which the original photo is decomposed into its constituent volumes, to the point of reinventing the photographic structures in truly three-dimensional terms. These are the ideas that contribute to the evolution of the language, offering insights beyond the simple aesthetic function, capable of making us see the obvious with a touch of the unexpected.
EROS DE FINIS A lot of interior black and white but also colors full of emotions can be found in the figurative pictorialism that inspires the moral sense of De Finis. His images catapult us into abnormal, emotionally strong, narrative environments where the energies seem to always be hiding, looking for a secret dialogue with the viewer. De Finis creates a scenic structure in which the subjects belong to spaces larger than themselves, to remember the value of existence in an ever-changing landscape. You immediately feel the resistance of ancestral values, between folk tradition and sacrificial cult, an emphatic link with the cycle of nature to which man has always belonged. The photographs have an open wound feel, with strong contrasts: a black that contains absolute darkness and a white that blinds and burns. De Finis’ aesthetic speaks, basically, of energy in action, a realism so explosive that it becomes almost abstract, intangible as a gust of wind that blows without showing.
ANTONELLO & MONTESI Philippe Antonello and Stefano Montesi come from cinema (the first as a set photographer, the latter as a celebrity photographer) and go back to the language of moving images in their research on the evolution of the medium. They were among the first to experiment with 3D technology in photography, creating large full-length portraits to be observed with the classic glasses with colored lenses. In their path they search for subjects with strong semantic characters to model the technology within a solid concept with artistic autonomy. The final result is shocking and impressive: static and dynamic blend together and change the scenic appearance, recreating with still pictures what Gravity did with 3D film. The subject changes the perception of space and the picture takes on a new linguistic commitment, still embryonic but ready to explode into tomorrow’s expressive geographies.
CIOGLI We finish with an artist whose photography conceptually dissects painting, color and sound. CIOGLI, a visual artist and experimental composer, has developed software (Paint Sound) that opens new boundaries of perception. His method translates environmental sounds in dynamic images/works, where the graphic comes to ife through the color corresponding to each sound. The photography exists but is not seen, it is contained in the definition of color as a new skin with which to dress a painting but also an object, a building or any real form. The sound stimulates color, with the latter completing the form by giving it a sartorial chromatic quality. It does not appear as a shot but the photograph does exist: on the one hand, as an interior element, the principle of elaboration of the fragment; on the other, as a document that sets out the steps and certifies the illusion of colors, showing, through the press, what the software has made fluid and impalpable.
Gianluca Marziani is the Art Columnist for the Italian Journal