CITIES 11 - Milan Souls - Roberto Polillo

Venerdì, 10 Maggio 2024

In a figure look for the great light and the great shadow, the rest will come by itself - Edoard Manet

Polillo's photography is certainly a photograph in limine, because it is in the margins of movement, in the margins of time and in the margins of light, more precisely in its rarefied fragmentation, that the soul of his photographic doing and saying is placed.

The ICM – Intentional Camera Movement – is a technique used by some authors over time with an intentionality similar to that which led the Impressionists to choose painting en plain air. In a certain sense we can say that this technical choice has the value that the use of color in tubes had for Manet or Renoir: it is the tool that makes it possible to speak the artistic language that the artist feels most his own and in such a way that it is immediately understood by the viewer.

In Polillo, however, the technique disappears in the rarefied poetry of his shots. It disappears as the shapes and figures barely understandable disappear beyond the carousel of colors and refractions that each shot offers us. Polillo's aesthetic intuition has been refined over fifteen years but the approach remains "instantaneous": it is impossible to prepare the shot in advance.

We proceed by trial, chasing a feeling and perhaps an intuition about the soul of the places. As in these Milanese shots, the city of origin of the author who, however, had never crossed it with the intention of "portraying" it.

Yes, because Polillo's are dreamlike portraits of the cities he visited. Surreal and "impressionistic" stories made with a digital camera instead of a tube of pure color. There remain fragments of memory that, as Man Ray said: "I photograph what I don't want to paint, that I already have in my soul!"


In una figura cercate la grande luce e la grande ombra, il resto verrà da se

Edoard Manet


La fotografia di Polillo è sicuramente una fotografia in limine, perché è nei margini del movimento, nei margini del tempo e nei margini della luce, più precisamente nella sua rarefatta frantumazione, che si colloca l’anima del suo fare e dire fotografico.

L’ICM – Intentional Camera Movement  - è una tecnica utilizzata da alcuni autori nel corso del tempo con un’intenzionalità simile a quella che portò gli Impressionisti a scegliere la pittura en plain air. In un certo qual senso possiamo dire che questa scelta tecnica ha il valore che ebbe per Manet o Renoir l’utilizzo del colore in tubetto: è lo strumento che rende possibile parlare il linguaggio artistico che l’artista sente più proprio e in modo tale che sia immediatamente compreso dallo spettatore.

In Polillo però la tecnica scompare nella rarefatta poesia dei suoi scatti. Scompare come scompaiono le forme e le figure appena intuibili al di là del carosello di cromie e di rifrazioni che ogni scatto ci offre. L’intuizione estetica di Polillo si è affinata sull’arco di quindici anni ma l’approccio rimane «istantaneo»: impossibile preparare con anticipo lo scatto.

Si procede per tentativi, inseguendo una sensazione e forse un’intuizione sull’anima dei luoghi. Come in questi scatti milanesi, la città di origine dell’autore che però non l’aveva mai attraversata con l’intenzione di “ritrarla”. Si perché quelli di Polillo sono ritratti onirici delle città che ha visitato. Racconti surreali e “impressionistici” realizzati con una camera digitale invece che con un tubetto di colore puro.

Rimangono frammenti di  memoria che come diceva Man Ray: “fotografo ciò che non voglio dipingere, che ho già nell’anima!”


About the photographer

“I started making photographs in the Sixties, when, for many years, I took photographs in over a hundred jazz concerts. Being the son of Arrigo Polillo, a well known jazz critic, historian and concert organizer, I had the unique opportunity of building a fairly complete gallery of the most important jazz musicians of the time.These images are well known, and have been shown in many personal exhibitions, books, magazines, CDs and blogs. My photographic book “Swing, Bop & Free” (2006, Marco Polillo Editore), collects over 100 portraits of the most important jazz masters of the Sixties. 
Since the early Seventies, I was professionally involved in software engineering, as a university professor and an entrepreneur and for many years photography was left behind. 
I have always been an appassionate traveller, and I actively came back to photography in the last dozen years, with a large personal research in fineart travel photography. My goal is to represent the atmosphere of the places which I visit and that fascinate me, the particular "genius loci" that makes them unique. To this aim, the images are captured with long exposure times while moving the camera (ICM - Intentional Camera Movement technique). The subsequent digital editing does not change the image, but only emphasizes its colors and contrast. The final result shows the "magics" of the places, making visible aspects that are already present in the photographed reality, but, so to speak, in a latent  form. Most of my images are inkjet printed on fineart  textured paper or finer canvas, to give them a very  "pictorial" feeling


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