Short presentation by the artist Riccardo Varini
This is a thirty-year work which I think symbolises me most. Started in 1979, it includes mainly traditional photos and slides which have been transported into CD for filing reasons and slightly retouched with Photoshop just to make them cleaner. They are all printed on cotton paper 100% Velvet which softens and further enhances my pastel colours. Lots of photographs have been deliberately overexposed during the shooting, an effect that actually characterises my present style, which is by no means aggressive in the tones. On one hand I found myself close to Luigi Ghirri’s language, (whom I met in 1984), on the other to Gino Gandini, a painter of my country belonging to Morandi’s school, whose light and essential shades I particularly appreciated. Since then I have been taking up a more pictorial and softer personal path, where the subject and the landscape were important not as “space” but as “geography of human soul”. I have never focused on specific topics like “bicycles”, “roofs” and so on. My aim was producing poetry through my images, since as a writer I was distracting and as a painter I didn’t have a steady hand. Instead photography forces you to be more synthetic and balanced. So I’m proposing you my “Silences”.
I think it is a story (if photographing means writing with the light) with a quite clear thread: to create poetry with wide spaces which are mostly very close to my country and to my culture. Looking back at my prints, I think they can evoke Eternity not because of their formal aesthetic value or their absolute silence, but because of their capacity of going beyond time in favour of a poetic message which invites to meditation and reflection. Some of them convey melancholic and twilight feelings, but then I have introduced a bit of irony to overcome sadness, especially in certain images with symmetries. My photos recall a particular mood rather than a specific day or place in our memory. You will not find any dates or titles in my photos.
I simply allow the observer to find in them what he likes, which coincides maybe with what I feel. Someone has called me “Minimalist” but I’d rather say I’m a simple man who likes clean images. I often display light spaces or snowy landscapes because they are useful backgrounds without any frills. It’s just like when you half-close your eyes and there it remains only outlines or essential things. That’s the sensation I am interested in. A kind of “painting” suffused with sweet light thanks to this cotton paper which removes reflections and reduces saturation. I don’t like astonishing with special effects. I’d rather want to make people think. My purpose is not to be celebrated but to be understood.
Riccardo Varini, February 2009