Photographs by Olivo Barbieri take a unique perspective on familiar landscapes, with his exhibition titled Pensieri Diversi on display at Villa Bardini from November 7 to February 11. The contradictions of modernity are a key theme at play, with the artist’s various voyages explored in the 50 works on show that span a 20-year period, curated by Marco Pierini.
Born in Carpi (Modena) in 1954, the artist challenges traditional modes of representation to create new narratives. Using techniques such as starkly altered colouring, selective focus and overexposure, he renders well-known subjects strange, often revisiting iconic historical sites and pushing the relationship between humanity and the world into something paradoxical.
Landscapes seem to hover on the boundary between destruction and renewal, with the title inspired by a Ludwig Wittgenstein volume, where he comments “I said once and perhaps rightly: the past civilization will become a pile of ruins and in the end a heap of ashes, but spirits will hover over the ashes”. From the Alps and Capri to Zhanjiang in China, the artist at times casts an almost science fiction atmosphere over artificial-like scenes, catching them in motion in a process of metamorphosis.
President of the Bardini and Peyron Monumental Parks Foundation, Jacopo Speranza, stated, “It’s a great opportunity for Villa Bardini to host this important exhibition that addresses the theme of the urban environment and its progressive transformation, which has forcefully entered the news and everyday debate. It’s also an opportunity to rethink the many meanings of ‘our’ landscape, which plays a strong role in the country’s identity. Barbieri’s artistic career marks an extraordinary period in Italian photography, and his works scrutinize those places that in the past were not considered worthy of being represented. A lucid and severe gaze that clashes violently with that ‘postcard’ vision of many historic centers that are now part of our collective memory.”
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