by Alessandro Sarteanesi
in uscita a settembre 2020
‘I met him by chance through that boy Nemo Sarteanesi, who now takes care of all his things. One day he came to the printers and he told me: “Burri would like to meet you in person…”
…When I met him I was painting, I was between figurative and abstract, but later I became overly influenced by his painting and stopped. It fascinated me too much, I couldn’t help it.
‘Earth is no longer what it once was, the place where humans hoped and laughed. The earth as I see it now is made of signs and matter, like a painting by Burri. Today a landscape of mine is closer to one of his paintings than to the land I previously photographed, because I look for signs, writings and faces, just as I did in the other works. Because these are faces; I haven’t touched them at all.’
Mario Giacomelli (Senigallia 1925–2000), one of the twentieth-century’s most important photographers, is the subject of a significant exhibition currently in development at the MAXXI in Rome. Through a number of selected landscapes and Giacomelli’s acquaintance with Alberto Burri, the show examines a particular representation of nature and landscape in relation to abstraction and Informalism in art.
Mario Giacomelli met Alberto Burri for the first time in 1968, introduced by Nemo Sarteanesi, a painter, intellectual and friend of Burri’s, with whom he set up the homonymous Foundation. In 1983 Sarteanesi organised a Giacomelli exhibition at Città di Castello Municipal Library.
With their common interest in analysing the sensations deriving from matter, Giacomelli and Burri reworked reality in a composition that seems conventionally abstract, yet is no less pertinent to humankind and its condition.
Therefore in the photographs from the series on display, some of which Giacomelli gave to Sarteanesi or to Burri – Awareness of Nature, Stories of the Earth, or Motif Suggested by Felling a Tree – ‘once again Giacomelli forges a path that goes beyond realism (which remains his inspiration) to the sphere of psychology. … In the roughness of fibres, in growths, in the sacrifice of cutting down a tree, Giacomelli identifies the faces, reflections and true tragic nature of earthly experience.’ (S. Guerra, C. Leonardi). Critic Arturo Quintavalle recalls how the photographer ‘does not construe Le Marche or the central Italian Apennines as a postcard landscape, but instead becomes the designer of a research into an art that reassesses an area of land. In short, a different idea, land art that penetrates the depths of history… linked to a different sense of materiality and its duration. … Giacomelli’s large landscapes are full of fear and a harsh sense of death, like many of Burri’s great paintings.’
The photos on this page are by Mario Giacomelli, except for his portrait, which is by Guido Harari.