Press and Reviews
ROSSELLA PEZZINO DE GERONIMO
Travel photography is traditionally considered an evocative reportage, one that used to leave its viewers open mouthed in astonishment when voyages were the exclusive domain of explorers...
ROSSELLA PEZZINO DE GERONIMO
Travel photography is traditionally considered an evocative reportage, one that used to leave its viewers open mouthed in astonishment when voyages were the exclusive domain of explorers, soldiers, missionaries, tradesmen, and indeed, photographers. Suffice it to say that at the 1911 International Exhibition in Turin Italian visitors saw black people for the first time, in a hall in which an entire African village was reconstructed with real inhabitants in the flesh. Today, things are radically different, with travel photographers shifting the focus onto aspects of daily life, anthropology and nature. Rossella Pezzino De Geronimo, while visiting and documenting places of exceptional beauty, has chosen a different route for the works here presented, giving preference to a minute research into details. By focusing the gaze on a breast framed by a necklace, the viewer will appreciate the softness of the skin, the colour contrast of the beads and the slight shade left by them, and all the harmony of a triangular composition. The same holds true of a disc hanging from the lobe of an ear, highlighting the softness of the surfaces, and a tiny chip that becomes the fulcrum of the image. In other cases, skin plays the lead role, in side lit close-ups that accentuate the enigmatic force of the overall image. Onlookers may feel they are looking at fabric, at a wall, at a landscape, or – when the body is enriched with designs – at a painting in which brilliant white contrasts with varying shades of brown and striking elements of black. Another significant and yet more radical work, both in terms of style and dramatic effect, is the holographic video purposely created by Rossella Pezzino De Geronimo for this occasion. In it, the images blend as if captured in a spiral of elements, trapped in a whirlwind, dragged by the flow of water, absorbed by the air, burnt by fire, and drawn by the earth.
The lens of Rossella Pezzino de Geronimo works within the boundaries of pars construens and pars destruens. The artist's research investigates Nature through a study of Matter, Time and Space, resulting in a new and personal objectivity...
The lens of Rossella Pezzino de Geronimo works within the boundaries of pars construens and pars destruens. The artist's research investigates Nature through a study of Matter, Time and Space, resulting in a new and personal objectivity. The process of decontextualising and fragmenting images creates abstract geometrics, finding a new identity from their natural origin, when crystallized by photography.
With the name Linear Alchemies, the artist instinctively leads the viewer along the path of her interpretation. Her art plays by translating a surrealist painting into photography, capturing Nature, crystallising its perpetual evolution, and relativising its atavistic components. Rossella examines Space, Nature, Matter and all-changing Time, creating linear alchemies resulting in the artist's epiphanic leitmotif, i.e. the intrinsic, recondite and intimate concept of vision and chance, the here and now. Her lines, intended as a new formal language tending towards abstractism, and capable of veering towards a new order of composition, represent a conceptual emblem designed to clarify and translate the project idea through the subsequent process of visual scanning. Her continuous poetic journey comes to life through an interior technical evolution that seems to follow the morphology of the earth and of Nature in the remotest corners of the world that Rossella loves to explore. No stone is left unturned, and wherever she goes, she gleans secrets that she recounts in the form of memories. Hers is a journey in search of her ancestral roots and our consciousness, substantiated, in this case, by cognitive abstractions that push beyond clearly defined boundaries. The shapes, which seem traced with charcoal on white canvas, are instead a purge, a monochrome photographic synthesis that unexpectedly adds to rather than subtracting from Rossella's concurrent colour images. Indeed, the variety resulting from this dual position reveals the unique value of a deep desire - that of being part of Nature. It is through such alchemic composition that the artist penetrates the folds of the soul. The morphology created by pixels, the work of Chance on earth, is so extraordinary as to make it a unique, self-referential subject. The viewer is not faced with landscape scenes in the traditional sense, but rather with crystallized suspensions generated by translating images into signs, tangible and abstract ones. While maturing and evolving her style of expression, Rossella perseveres in a continuous search for the innermost essence, hidden by the weaves of creation. Her images are like ontological incarnations of oniric observations and translations; Rossella is relentless in her search for the most profound essence and soul of Nature, a search that takes her to the ends of the earth. This too is part of her alchemies: the demarcation of places and non-places, in which the identity of both dissolve, amidst the shadows and lights of white and black. The places depicted in these pictures are neither recognizable nor traceable to images we all known; instead, it is a compendium of sensations captured in a click, of landscapes generated by glancing into the soul of the earth. The difficulties that Rossella faces in her travels add an enriching touch to her work; they offer land, sand, water, in search of a new status, a radical personality that does not seek the mimicry of objective fact, but rather, a subjectivity that, although descriptive, follows the rules of abstract painting, deconstructing images in favour of emotion and interpretative sensuality.
This epiphanic and ontological journey to the corners of the Earth is accomplished by capturing the Linear Alchemies. Beyond form, Rossella gives a disarming beauty of composition, recalling the miracle of Nature, interpreted by an intimate and universal synaesthesia.
LANDSCAPES OF THE SOUL
A man with a hat and four women in cloaks and umbrellas (presumably to keep away the water from the waterfalls nearby), unaware of what is happening, are photographed from behind...
LANDSCAPES OF THE SOUL
di Roberto Mutti
A man with a hat and four women in cloaks and umbrellas (presumably to keep away the water from the waterfalls nearby), unaware of what is happening, are photographed from behind. The American photographer who took the photograph, Platt D. Babbitt, was one of the first people to realise photography had great commercial possibilities. Babbit used to put his cumbersome camera under a sheet and when tourists came up - which they often did, as he was by the Niagara Falls - he photographed them without their knowledge and later sold the photographs to them. That 1853 daguerreotype taken as a souvenir, now, after many years, gains a very different meaning and deserves a detailed analysis.
The photographer, "forced" not to have his subjects facing him (as they would have been in a traditional group portrait), is looking in the same direction as his subjects and sees what they see. Observers are reminded of the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, painted thirty five years earlier, although this photographic image has none of the romantic unrest and torment of Caspar David Friedrich's painting. If anything, the awe felt by the man and the four women admiring an unsettlingly beautiful view can be perceived in the photograph.
A particular mental process is required to fully understand this. Imagine looking beyond the subjects in the foreground and concentrate your attention on the background. You will realise the landscape is far less accurate and with fewer details (in other words, far less realistic) than you would have imagined. The long exposure times required to obtain a daguerreotype have made the surface of the water far too fluid and the slight out-of-focus effect caused by the opening of the diaphragm has increased the picture's poetic atmosphere. The technology limitations of the time have accidentally revealed a hidden aspect of landscape photography of which we became fully aware only many years later.
Realistically spectacular images have a strange characteristic - they are pleasant to look at but they do not cause the pain of perturbing imaginings, which is a distinguishing feature of truly important photographs. You have the feeling that the dominant aspect is the beauty of the landscape, which the photographer has documented simply using his technical skills. This is true for stock images and for the pictures used to create postcards, the front covers of exercise books and tourist brochures, which are beautiful but not seductive, pleasant but not intriguing. They are agreeable to look at but do not lead to the path coded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, which involved the eye, mind and heart in equal measure.
Moving up to the next level, fine art photography, style signs are evident. Whether this can be seen in the strongly prevailing trend of recognisable landscape or in that of its conceptual transfiguration is not important, and the two trends do not necessarily diverge. This is confirmed by artists such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston or Minor White (just to mention a few of the most famous), who are able to read the landscape through a true naturalistic philosophical vision that was able to capture reality and go beyond it, sometimes extending into abstraction. Observing the landscape as if it were an external objective element is different from considering it a mirror of one's feelings and emotions (and possibly even one's vision of the world). This second path leads to extraordinary works such as "Equivalent", in which Alfred Stieglitz tackles clouds, to the geometrical compositions by Franco Fontana, who loves to say that "what you see does not exist, what you photograph does", to Edward Burtynsky's disturbing landscapes, to the essential cleanliness of the world delicately interpreted by Yamamoto Masao, to the involving and full-bodied vision with which Mario Giacomelli creates an interior dialogue between the folds in the skin of a peasant's hands and the cuts in the farmed land, between the light that crosses the sky and flashes from the sea.
We believe this long introduction was essential (naturally excluding any possible comparisons) to insert the new research work recently carried out by Rossella Pezzino de Geronimo in a wider aesthetic and cultural direction that justifies and ennobles it. If we are before what she herself calls "landscapes of the soul", it is because this is where the interior search that began a long time ago has arrived. The style choices and results are very far from the ones mentioned here.
The immediate language of reporting - which at the time was Rossella's style - was the result of the need to sublimate her pain when comparing it with the pain of other women who suffered in distant lands in which life is far more difficult. Yet that was a first step, although it soon turned out to be incapable of satisfying the deeper and more acute emotions stirring in the artist's soul. A more radical operation was required. This meant moving the prospective vision until the world was not considered as it objectively appeared but as a mirror that could preserve elements of reality and return them loaded with the intensity of the emotions felt. At first, the photographer focused on details that, isolated from their context, ended up taking on a new meaning, partly because they implied a deliberate breaking of matter. Landscape, given substance by descriptive realism until it became a kind of abstraction, was linked to the increasing awareness that this process exists only as much as the will of the subject allows it.
All this is not detached from an amazingly beautiful project that Rossella has been working on for years. "Le stanze in fiore" [rooms in bloom] is a seven-hectare garden in which there is a path made of intertwined areas with alternating tropical and Mediterranean plants, Oriental hints and corners with spontaneous beauty. To walk through it, stop in it, design it and at the same investigate it have in this way become a real interior search exercise that unavoidably affected the artist's work and style.
The next step - going from fragmented details to complete landscape de-structuring - is recent and was triggered during a journey that had a cathartic effect, pushing the artist in the direction of a new, deeper and more authentic vision. Great deserts, lagoons, regions in which water and earth dialogue with one another fighting over space thus became the dimension in which creativity found its new raison d'être. The landscape is not seen as such any more but as a landscape of the soul, a reflection of the feelings it can arouse. The residual suffering found in the titles of certain works ("Strazio" [torment], "Incubi" [nightmares], "Paure" [fears]) changes and gradually grows towards interior liberation, which moves from "Respiro" [breath] and "Leggerezza" [lightness] and finally leads towards the "Energia esplosiva" [explosive energy] that marks the achievement of interior freedom. Observers are overwhelmed in a landscape devoid of human presence, which is the very reason it seems boundless, as there are no parameters for defining limits. They feel slightly bewildered at becoming lost in the gentle ripples on the water and its golden lights, which are the source of pleasant feeling of serenity.
Rossella's holograms followed a parallel evolution. If previously they developed their dynamics in structures that preserved the sense of wonder as if they were in a chest, now they too seem to stretch out, resting on essential shelves and provoking observers into dynamic interaction. Before these three-dimensional works that show imaginative scenarios - spheres, particles, moving masses that evoke the grandiose transformations of the universe - we all feel a deep sense of wonder. It may well be the same feeling that, so many years ago, those tourists and the man photographing them felt as they looked at the Niagara Falls, as they heard from afar the sound of the water in perfect syntony with their excited hearts.