Mazzoleni is pleased to present Ti ho visto (I Saw You), Massimo Vitali's second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Born in 1944, Vitali receives his first camera as a gift at the age of 12. He starts his career as a photo reporter and continues as a Director of Photography in the film industry. In the early 1990s, he focuses on large formats and 'staged' images that do not seek the 'decisive moment' but take shape from prolonged waiting periods and an analytical, rational look.
In summer 1994, Vitali takes his first photograph on the beach in Marina di Pietrasanta. This marks the beginning of a successful series, which over the decades has consolidated him as one of the leading photographers on the international scene. All the elements that will characterise Vitali's modus operandi in the years to come are in that picture already: the camera tripod–that essentially is the elevated platform on which the artist is standing–is in the water in front of the shoreline, raised above the coast by 5-6 metres. The large-format camera (20 × 25)–the only one he had left after his equipment was stolen–allows him to record every single detail. A theatrical piece is staged by unwitting actors, immortalised in an endless number of small episodes.
The artist is moved by a sociological intent and a voyeuristic spirit. He identifies the beach as the privileged place to draft a socio-anthropological manual of Italian identity. The frontal view and the elevated position–the so-called 'prince's point of view'–allow him to capture wide landscape views as well as to delve into the intimacy of human interactions. After hours of patient observation, Vitali chooses the moment in which nothing decisive happens, but multiple micro-stories converge. The cold, whitish light freezes people, things, and places in an immovable space and time. The result is a merciless portrait of everyday life in which the natural element, the public sphere, and the private dimension are intertwined in a crystallised temporal suspension.
Although Vitali's coasts are noisy and colourful puzzles of bathers, swimsuits, deckchairs, and sun loungers, the resulting image reveals his active awareness of art history: the descriptive and meticulous realism of the Flemish 'ars nova'; the Renaissance perspective; the panoramic scenes of the eighteenth-century landscape painters; as well as some classic iconographies of Italian and European painting, such as the image of the 'bather' and the 'diver.'
Press release courtesy Mazzoleni.