By Muhammad Asad Ullah
Today, more than ever, photography cannot be considered as a short-lived aesthetic expression. With the rise of the social media, it has transformed into one of the dominant visual languages of our times; a powerful language capable of shaping the vision of who we are and who we could be in the shadows of who we were and how we have evolved. Well it won’t be erroneous to say that Italy is the guardian of a historical, artistic, archaeological, landscaping heritage, which is quite unique in the world and attract millions of tourists every year. There exist territories, knowledge, cultural attractions and creativity that makes Italy an extraordinarily extended circuit of beauty.
On the basis of such considerations, the Embassy of Italy and Katara – the Cultural Village Foundation, recently organised a photo exhibition ‘A Focus on Italian Heritage’, curated by the Italian contemporary art gallery Spazio Nuovo – Roma, at Katara’s Building 19, Gallery 1, scheduled to run till January 30.
The exhibition directs the spotlight on the limits, endless possibilities and the vicissitudes that we impose on our gaze when we interpret the renowned Italian heritage of classical architecture, painting, and sculptures.
The exhibition features 16 art pictures, like a capsule collection, created and made by a group of three artists, including Riccardo Ajossa, from Italy; Camilla Borghese, Italy; and Olivier Roller, France. The photographers have used the medium of photography to reinterpret the Italian artistic heritage – in their own unique perceptions.
The series of photographs by Riccardo Ajossa introduces some pictorial elements extrapolated directly from the paintings of various eminent Italian artists without reconstructing the work but extracting the content of the works and looking for the reflection of the works mirrored on the wet sand. Now that’s what we call art and an eye. His photographs were deceiving in a poetic way however, they developed a series of reflections and luminous references able to destabilise the observer.
As everybody knows, there is no actual remedy to the mutilations and damage suffered by a historical architectural structure as a result of negligence or misuse; it may be repaired or even copied from life, but the uniqueness of what has gone lost will never be recovered. What is needed is a primarily conservative approach based on the greatest attention and respect. Architecture in particular is all about evolution and conservation is the process of maintaining change to a heritage asset in a way that sustains and where appropriate enhances its significance. Who can understand this better than Camilla Borghese, Masters in Conservation of Artistic Heritage? No one! Her thought process and how she views present day architectural structures of Italy with cultural heritage was evident from her photographs, showcased at the exhibition.
Where the works of Riccardo and Camila explores Italian heritage of classical architecture and painting, respectively, the works of Olivier Roller plunges into a continuous journey through past, present and future – enhancing the true essence of a man and his existence via Roman sculptures. Through different perspectives, the portraits of the powerful of the world today and yesterday, including Claudia Schiffe, Julius Caesar, Jeanne Moreau, Louis XIV and the emperor Augustus formed sharp distinctive looks. Each image had its own story, comparing the power today to the history of power between antiquity, middle ages and sovereign power.
Speaking on the occasion, Pasquale Salzano, Ambassador of Italy, said, “We are very proud to open the Italian embassy’s cultural programme in 2019 with this very special exhibition, a unique collection of pictures, using photography as a medium to immense Italian artistic heritage,” he added, “Photography is indeed a powerful tool to share cultural heritage as well as stimulate people feelings and ideas. In this regard, Italy and Qatar has the same vision. Both the countries are committed to preserve, promote and make their respective cultural heritage as much accessible as possible in order to encourage the inclusive development and dialogue between communities and generations, as it is also highlighted in the ‘Qatar National Vision 2030.’
On asked about his favourite piece from the exhibition, he said, “All of them are fantastic, but I love Olivier Roller’s Augusto Di Meroe piece. And just not that but his other pieces, including Marcellus, Divnita Femminile, Lucius Verus and Inconnu I as well. It’ll be unfair to just list them – all architectural pieces by Camilla Borghese and Riccardo Ajossa are just wonderfully done as well.”
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