The invention of the oak
THE INVENTION OF THE OAK
Photographic experiment on black and white film in Tuscan Maremma.
At “Il Cortilone” in Sorano (Province of Grosseto).
On show 108 prints medium and large format; book with 70 photos duotone-printed, texts by Andrea Cortellessa and Vincenzo Cottinelli published by Edizioni L’Obliquo (www.edizionilobliquo.it
August, 31 (opening 18:00) to September 28 h.11:00 / 19:00 - closed Monday.
After years dedicated to creating portraits of leading figures of world culture or social issues (only exception: "The Dream of the Garden" in 2012), I encountered the splendour of Tuscan Maremma in Montecavallo (between Sovana and Saturnia) on the estate of my wife Maria, with its large oak trees.
I decided to confront myself with the oak in all of its extraordinary beauty, however not with the traditional amateur, tourist, calendar or gift-book toadyism, but rather with the stylistic freedom of the silver-salt photos on black and white medium-format roll-film negative, using old “free roller” cameras.
My multiple slipped technique and irregular shooting helped me narrate the oak as if a colossal experiment were taking place: its "invention" in a large outdoor laboratory, where structures, shapes, lights and shadows, branches, leaves and trunks were being developed, agitated and mixed under the pressure of powerful forces and pushed upwards, or inexorably dragged along the horizon in search of an original graphically aesthetic model, or under the gaze of the sun as it dominates, reveals, hides with shadows - or under the protection of clouds.
This conceptually Darwinian procedure, however, was not aimed at narrating the evolutionary project and rooting of arboreal life, but intended to describe a beauty that is rough, shocking and absolute. Masculine beauty? The name of this extraordinary tree is feminine in Italian (quercia), Spanish (roble),German (Eich)and Latin quercus; is masculine in French(chêne), like olive, walnut, beech, chestnut; but ‘oak’ is neutral in English, like the Latin term robur, used to describe the strength of its wood. Although my images are often harsh and rough, they also show delicate, fragile, refined vegetal moments, as if the oak were a beautiful rather robust woman.By declaring my love for the oak tree, I believe I have paid tribute to the grandeur of Maremma.
My work consists of hundreds of large-format ink-jet prints (up to two meters wide), prepared by Studio Gusmeri Fine Art on bamboo Hahnemuehle matte paper. They are on sale for collectioners and will be on show in the rough walls of the "Cortilone", a fascinating délabré XVI Century building (former granary of the Orsini dynasty, now belonging to the Piccolomini-Sereni Foundation) which stands on one of Sorano's overhanging cliffs, where the exhibition is scheduled between 31 August (opening 6 p.m.) and 28 September 2019.
On that occasion will be available my photographic book published by Edizioni L’Obliquo, 136 page, 88 duotone photos, text by A.Cortellessa and V.Cottinelli, captions from Paul Valéry and J.W.Goethe.