massimo vitali at brancolini grimaldi

19 November 2011 § Leave a comment

It was surprising to discover that this exhibition is Massimo Vitali’s first solo UK exhibition in nearly fifteen years. Long overdue it is fitting that the recently-established Brancolini Grimaldi gallery, who specialise in photographic works, should also feature a fellow countryman.

Vitali’s stock in trade is the overexposed and washed-out image of over-populated locations. Beaches feature prominently as have discos and parties, whilst the current exhibition features coastal scenes. All are blown up in to a large-scale – typically about six feet high and more across – mounted under plexiglass to heighten a feeling of plastic unreality.

Talking briefly with Vitali at the exhibition it was interesting to hear that he started this theme of work following his despair at the Italian political scene when Berlusconi came to power. He decided to photograph the people of Italy to see if he could find any insight in to the way that they think. The mundane and everyday moments in locations of beauty such as beached appealed to him.

Despite many of the images seeming to feature almost uninhabited landscapes he confirmed that his images are still always about people. It is their interaction with the landscape and not the location itself which is most important. I loved his Firiplaka Red Yellow Diptych – a multicoloured cliff-face with a few figures walking the water’s edge at its base. It was an image he waited and waited for and only as the waves lapped over the top of the tall platform, from which he takes his high viewpoint shots, did he finally get the composition he wanted. In the end it was his favourite image in the show.

I personally prefer his earlier – even more washed-out – images but here is a top photographer close to his peak and it is worth stopping by for a look. Works are expensive – £30k or so, increasing towards the ends of the editions of six – but will surely hold their value.

Departing I snapped a final image and just as I did so a figure walked through the frame – it was Vitali himself, so I add the image below. Perhaps he would approve – after all he could be just another anonymous Italian in a beautiful coastal landscape….

At Brancolini Grimaldi until 28 January 2012

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