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.
MY FOUR ROOTS
Gianni Dunil, Flavia Rovetta, Simone Pieralice
Rossella’s gaze, although strongly connected to the sensible experience, can be defined as transcendental, aimed at understanding the reality that lies beyond the visible.
MY FOUR ROOTS
Gianni Dunil, Flavia Rovetta, Simone Pieralice
Rossella’s gaze, although strongly connected to the sensible experience, can be defined as transcendental, aimed at understanding the reality that lies beyond the visible. From her first photo features made in distant and evocative places, such as “Japan”, “Women of Burma” or “Fragments of Identity”, up to her most recent abstract production, her work has never had just a documentary purpose. The desire to pursue an artistic career was rather animated by the urgency to grasp the essence of the subject, whatever it was, eliminating any unnecessary superfluity and focusing attention on the revealing particular. The photographic lens, in this sense, does not exclusively record concrete data, but it becomes an expressive instrument that is capable of analysing the multiple layers composing all natural phenomena. The weave of the emotional fabric, connoting every experience, emerges from such a revelation, as well as the traces of a latent but resonant spirituality, which is distinctly perceptible in the folds of each shot.
In this regard, if one wonders about the specificity of photography, about the peculiar characteristic that makes it a fully legitimated means of artistic expression, it would be necessary to take into consideration the incomparable property of the photographic medium to investigate the intimate nature of things. The lens, a mechanical instrument that has infallible precision, inevitably captures a fleeting moment, which flows before the eye of the photographer, who remains hidden – even if peremptorily present – behind the camera. And it is precisely in this sudden act of eternalizing a reality that has already disappeared, already irreversibly changed in the flow of life, that photography is not only limited to reproduction: it rather offers the opportunity to investigate phenomena analytically and to reformulate them, to reassemble them in a reality even more real than reality itself. In this sense, the exhibition “My Four Roots” is a real programmatic manifesto. The artist aims to return to the essential, on the one hand expressing a human, visceral and individual need to get back in touch with her own origins, recognized in the four natural elements; on the other, she talks in universal terms, with the aim of identifying the very roots of reality.
This double research, conducted both on an existential and theoretical level, translates into an increasingly abstract and intangible artistic language, as if to emphasize that the true essence of things cannot be circumscribed in a closed and definitive form, nor can it be touched. Through this operation, she delineates places that only apparently resemble natural landscapes, but resonate with inner vibrations. Dematerialized, with no anthropic elements, they acquire the symbolic value of inner places, of metaphysical spaces.
It is no coincidence that the chosen technique to perform a similar analysis is photography, a form of art constituted by an incorporeal but omnipresent material. The “light traces” by Rossella are therefore the perfect correspondence between signifier and meaning, in which an impalpable entity with an undeniable spiritual meaning gives shape to everything.
In this regard it is interesting to note how in her photographs every detail is emphasized, accentuated, almost in an exasperation of reality, which results into a totalizing abstraction, that invests every small particle, every single atom, of what is represented. The camera is an ally in the accurate identification of the structure of physical bodies and, in this precise context, it is possible to consider again the aesthetic category of “beauty”, using the words of the famous photographer Edward Weston: “The physical quality of things can be rendered with utmost exactness: stone is hard, bark is rough, flesh is alive, or they can be made harder, rougher or more alive if desired. In a word, let us have photographic of beauty”. The path taken by the artist unfolds over an extended period of time: each step is a hard conquest of her own awareness, up to the revelation of the quintessence that permeates all the four elements of Nature.
Her research starts from the series called “Cruel Colors” (2015), which represents the element of Fire through shots taken in Dancalia, a region in Ethiopia that is also the largest depression on Earth and the hottest area in the world. No place could be more appropriate to physically represent the most carnal, the most dangerous, the most primordial of the four “roots”. The photographs that capture the volcanic eruption are characterized by a clear chromatic dualism, which noticeably accentuates reds and yellows, through their isolation on the background of an absolute black. The jets of incandescent lava stand out on a dark velvet canvas, they seem to be arabesques of colour, outlined by a wise fortuity, almost like a drip painting. In such a terse composition, a magma of pulsating energy boils, communicating with the spectator without any symbolic mediation. A different discourse has to be made for the other photographs of the same cycle, in which the rocky conformations, with acid colours in evident simultaneous contrast, draw a new morphology, not similar to any pre-existing geographical description. Reality is multifaceted and changes right under the attentive eye of the photographer, who is able to reshape it with her own works, even if only temporarily.
The fickle passion of fire dissolves in the modulated shots of the “Linear Alchemies” collection (2016), dedicated to Water. Water builds parallel realities, gives body to immaterial reverberations, redoubles the visible world. Compositions acquire order, linearity, they are based on horizontal lines and on a few, essential, diagonals. Surfaces are structured into chromatic bands, in order to narrate the poetry of the reflections, the reciprocal contamination of colours that merge and mirror each other, the harmonious alchemies that regulate Nature. The photographs of the series “Breath of Heaven” (2017), taken on the mountains of the Chinese Zhangye Danxia Park, bring the concept of abstraction to a further level. Earth, seen from space, a privileged point of view, is blue, a variegated and changeable blue. Precisely blue, in its most ethereal and iridescent shades, is the predominant colour in the shots dedicated to the element Earth. Rossella's extraordinary intuition lies in integrating the overall vision of the globe and its minute, lenticular, capillary observation.
Some magnified details of mountains are painted blue, as if the infinitely small and the infinitely big coincided, as if they were watched simultaneously from close up and from afar. Not only. Blue, in Tibetan philosophy as well as in Western mysticism, is the materialization of spirituality, of the divine, of harmony, of stillness. Composition, angular and geometrically solid, loses all identifiable connotations, appears to be founded exclusively on pure forms. In this progressive purification, the mountain range becomes a rarefied and sublime place, an emanation of the soul. Earth becomes Heaven, it rises, and Heaven becomes incarnate, breathes. This last flash of inspiration must have crossed the mind of the artist when she created the last series of this artistic path, “The Roots of the Air” (2018). How can Air, an invisible, immaterial element, difficult to perceive, have roots? Being it uncontainable, incorporeal and changeable, Air possesses the essence of Becoming. Briefly, the artist makes a definitive transition from the polyhedric nature of phenomena to the immutability of being; she translates the primordial chaos, that is at the origin of Everything, into a few synthetic forms. To transpose such an achievement into formal terms, the chromatic range is cleverly reduced to a few shades of white, grey, beige and significant black outlines, evoking the complementarity of substance and void. It is the highest degree of expression of a photography based on “removing”, in which progressive depuration leads to catharsis. The artist refuses the rhetorical representation of the sky and instead chooses the most arduous and complex way, materializing ether and making it dialogue with its terrestrial counterpart.
The cycle dedicated to Air brings to mind the shots of the British photographer Michael Kenna, whose profound and masterly technical skill originates images in black and white, minimal, imperturbable, silent, pervaded with immensity. Rossella, capturing the sense of history that nature transmits, immortalises serene and poetic places which, suspended in an undetermined and mysterious time, with no connection to the present, appear inexorably as eternal and boundless spaces.
The path traced by Rossella leads us to reflect on the very nature of the photographic act, to conclude that this gesture is nothing but a conscious reorganization of the natural chaos. As already theorized by another important photographer, Ansel Adams, the eye that captures the image manages to extrapolate the shape from the surrounding material confusion.
The need for a more and more radical dematerialization has also been expressed in an innovative form of art, extraordinarily experimental: the hologram. Explored by the artist since 2012, the hologram is based on the paradox of creating three-dimensional but incorporeal, virtual, poetic images. By giving voice to the intangible emotions of her soul, Rossella puts technology at the service of her own feelings, in order to find the most appropriate and coherent means for a specific expressive necessity. Colours, fluid and malleable masses, are articulated in her own consciousness and slowly merge, in an indissoluble way, with memories and sensations, both physical and emotional. Her desire is to give shape to whirling, confused emotions, deposited during important, even painful, experiences. Disorienting states of mind gradually become definite, clearer and clearer, they are investigated by an eye that – like the photographic lens – is able to decode reality, to plumb its symbols and produce renewed images. Pain lightens itself, dematerializes, produces beauty.
The last admirable result of this research on impalpable and multiform images, is the hologram entitled “Auric Egg”. A perfect form without end and without beginning, the casket of life and sacred symbol that alludes to the Resurrection, the egg was chosen by the artist to synthetically represent the complex totality of the four elements. This single entity, perfectly complete in itself, contains direct references to all the “roots” already mentioned above. The shell of the egg recalls the rough and fragile surface of the Earth. The membrane, breathable by its own nature, represents Air. The albumen, liquid and corpuscular, materializes Water. The yolk, a yellow beating heart, echoes Fire. The adjective “auric” is characterized by a precious meaning of perfection, as if to underline the completeness of a microcosm in which all the elements are complementary and each one feeds on the vital essence of the other. From the fire emerges a salamander that, although touched by the flames, remains uninjured: the legendary resistance of this indestructible animal thus becomes a metaphor for the inexhaustible capacity of adaptation of the human being who, tempered by multiple tests, is able to constantly remodel his own modus vivendi. The salamander remains balanced on a spinning top in perpetual rotation, which evokes – without interruption – the transition from childhood to adulthood. The object, strongly linked to the dimension of playing games, explains the need to grow, to recognize oneself in an autonomous and individual entity, overcoming the mother-child duality, without giving up the more instinctual, more creative impulses. The continuous motion alludes to a process without interruption, extended at all stages of life; the direct dialogue with the salamander, in this sense, is fundamental to underline how human beings must continually regenerate themselves throughout their evolution. To make the communication of such an interior development even more effective, the hologram turns into a spiral: a geometric form in perpetual rise, it expresses the infinite and the cyclicality, it represents the inner axis of each person who learns to rotate around themselves. In his swirling dynamism it can even remember a DNA molecule, the richest archive of every individual story. Finally, the hologram ends with a poetic image of the sky and the sea, fused together on the horizon. Two halves divided and at the same time united in a subtle shade, different and essential, like Yin and Yang, that dominate the indispensable contradictions that inhabit the spirit of each of us.
The fragile but sublime balance that permeates all of Rossella's artistic research is thus expressed in this perfect ambivalence of infernal impulses and paradisiacal aspirations, which allows her to narrate – through works of ethereal but carnal beauty – a human story, unfolded among the many facets of Being.
COMBATTIMENTO PER UNA IMMAGINE
Back in 1973 I had the good fortune to view a memorable exhibition evocatively titled Combattimento per una immagine (“Fight for an image”), concerned with the relationship between painting and photography.
COMBATTIMENTO PER UNA IMMAGINE
Back in 1973 I had the good fortune to view a memorable exhibition evocatively
titled Combattimento per una immagine (“Fight for an image”),
concerned with the relationship between painting and photography. The curators of the exhibition were the unfortunately long-forgotten Luigi
Carluccio, a critic from Puglia who lived in Turin, and a very young
Daniela Palazzoli, a precursor of the study of photography in Italy.
The exhibition, immortalised in a beautiful catalogue published by Galleria d’arte Moderna di Torino, drew the attention of Marella Agnelli, who loved photography and was herself an excellent photographer.
I was then lucky enough to work with Marella, a person of uncommon kindness and goodness, on the creation of a number of books of photographs taken by her, most of which focused on her beloved gardens.
And, above all, I worked with Marella and Associazione Amici Torinesi dell’Arte, of which she was president, on an extraordinary series of photography exhibitions under the title “La fotografia vista da” (“Photography as seen by...”), inspired by suggestions offered by prominent figures in the world of culture, expressing a concept which then became the theme of the exhibition.
These figures included Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia, whose theme was “Unknown to myself“, Alberto Arbasino, who came up with “Lost voyages” , and then Josif Brodskj, Furio Colombo and Gae Aulenti, to mention only a few of those who offered their ideas and with whom I had the good fortune to work. In my career in the world of photography, I cannot help recalling the exciting exhibition of the youthful work of the great Stanley Kubrick, an absolute genius, whose work I had the opportunity to publish and exhibit with Enrico Ghezzi and the very intelligent Elisabetta Sgarbi.
I am telling you all this to show you how my career in photography was, up to a certain point, a matter of chance, or rather, was driven by the circumstances in which I happened to find myself, which allowed me to get to know, and in some cases spend time with, great masters of photography such as Henry Cartier-Bresson, Steven Meisel, Frank Horvat, Ferdinando Scianna, Irish Broch and Nigel Dickinson.
And so it was that, almost without realising it, I approached the world of photography and became a passionate fan, seeing it as a means of expression in which, like painting, drawing or sculpture, I could discover a certain creative autonomy.
This was, after all, the intent of the exhibition Combattimento per un’immagine, “Fight for an image”, which claimed photography’s reason for existing, a path, a value, that goes beyond documentation but is inevitably also artistic, and therefore “noble”.
This has been the case for decades, now; photography is no longer at the service of something else, but is seen as an art in its own right, independently rebelling against all constrictions and limitations attempting to define its boundaries.
It has developed its own specific Koinè, from which it has set off on a voyage, the result of which is undefinable and offers a wealth of new possibilities.
For, released as it is from a function of mere reproduction, and from the service of specific memorable moments in time, it is now free of constrictions and may therefore unfold all its infinite expressive wealth, of which we can as yet see no end, though we can participate in its continual rebirth.
This is also by virtue of its new technical potential, which, whether we are adverse to technological progress, or by virtue of the creative independence which, while still guided by the human eye, and by technology, still maintains its proud capacity for independence, never knowing a priori what the final result will be.
As the great Diane Arbus used to say: “I never have taken a picture I intended. They’re always better or worse.”
And it is precisely this that is the inescapable magic of photography. The fascination of this mysterious, and at times perverse, game of roles that takes over anyone who approaches the camera and becomes the source of subtle little emotional thrills, in which the final image is a sort of catharsis, linked with a moment in time which will, of course, be preserved in time.
Today, I find myself before the latest photographs by Rossella Pezzino de Geronimo, unusual works which are clearly the result of a long and difficult gestation period, tormented and intimately pursued with total dedication, and, undoubtedly, the fruit of an inner struggle which shows through in her images, which are never simply decorative or appealing.
We cannot discuss Rossella's career in photography without considering a number of the aspects I have just mentioned. First of all, the relationship between painting and photography that inspired the exhibition I mentioned, “Combattimento per una immagine”.
Secondly, the emotional thrill the artist enlists through technology, which allows her to achieve results that are at times surprising and engaging, thrilling the viewer, perhaps in a subtly erotic way. Her relationship with painting is clear in the way she frames her shots, the choice of locations and colours, and the lean composition of her photographs. Images that speak of her passions, both literary and artistic, and in which the echo of the ancient philosophies inherent in the Sicilian identity that is an inseparable part of her being lead her to turn increasingly toward the Orient, giving rise to a meditative, inspired vision of life. In her most recent photographs in particular, tied to the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, she openly states her transcendent vision of life, inspired by Anaximenes, declaring the absolute incompatibility of our modern lifestyle with the natural laws of creation.
We cannot discuss her work in photography without taking into account this statement that is a living, essential, I would say magmatically essential, part of all her photographic work, and not only these splendid new images. Her previous work, focused on the human body, already contained the essence of this vision, revealed in the intentional abandonment of portraiture to focus instead on the emergence of a detail, a part, which, however small, is capable of representing that which is not visible. Conveying, in this way, the emotional sense of a distant vision of being, a mute image capable of offering a meaning, a reflection, on that which is seen and unconsciously perceived.
Another important characteristic of Rossella’s approach to photography is that she presents herself without protective barriers, opening up to the world in a continual rebirth and baring all her insides, her fragility, her anguish and her thoughts. All in an almost psychoanalytic form of advancement toward herself, in the search for interior lightness, almost a form of jouissance of Lacanian memory, capable of giving meaning to life and making it almost worth living. The fact that it is something else, besides a photograph, only reinforces this sense of lightness, of defenceless participation in the great mystery of creation that it expresses through photography, which becomes a sort of mute cry out to an increasingly inhuman world.
This becomes clear in the simplicity of her landscapes, so desolate and desolating, conveying that disturbing sense of subtle melancholy that runs through our troubled times.
In her images we may see, in the distance, the echo of that solitude, that incommunicability that was Michelangelo Antonioni’s hallmark, and which is to her a sentiment of the soul, perceived in the background, like a silent companion.
All this is clear in her photographs, which, in some cases, recall Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point with their cold colours, understated hues, and rarefied, abstract frames, in images which bring to mind, in addition to the great director’s work, the paintings of Mark Rothko, simple as Antonioni’s films, subtly disturbing in their absolute lack of any figurative reference and therefore in themselves incommunicable.
Capable nonetheless of creating emotions we would not otherwise experience. For Rossella, as for Antonioni and Rothko, the recently undertaken voyage finds, in this abstractly evocative form, a point of departure toward artistic and emotional growth pregnant with splendid unknowns which, if she can tame them, will lead her toward a future of great importance. Her Fight is no longer for an image, a fight that we have no put well behind us, but a struggle to achieve the absolute, a spiritual philosophic essence to be expressed using photography as the medium for communicating sensations, thoughts and emotions which would otherwise be confined to an intimistic and exclusively personal dimension.
In photography, the artist has found a way of giving herself, of making herself a participant in that dimension shared by all artists in which she offers herself through her work, because, as the great photographer Anselm Adams said, “You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
All this may be seen in Rossella's photographs, the profound and humanly open sense of a generosity of thought that is the hallmark of the great masters, who fill the viewer’s eyes and mind and make them feel free to vibrate in the sensations of images which are, and remain, in our memory.