by Sabrina Zannier
Hours: Monday to Friday from 17.00 to 19.00 Saturday from 9.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 19.00
or by appointment
by Sabrina Zannier
The signs of time is the first exhibition to explore the creative research of Francesco Galifi. The title summarises in two words the poetry of an author who uses the language of photography to bring into focus the thin and often imperceptible line between reality and visionariness.
Always within the natural landscape, only occasionally dotted with signs of human influence: from the geometric order of the fields and vineyards to the outline of a factory in the fog, to the volumetric clarity of a house in the woods. Galifi seems to prefer these landscapes in winter, when nature is pared down in its forms and volumes, the colours reduced to a succinct palette, drawing our attention to the constant tonal cangiantismo of the earth and sky.
It is in this choice that the first poetic connotations of his research lie, recognizable in the emergence of graphic signs, motifs that lead the photographer to a kind of rewriting of reality. Galifi selects his landscapes, but in his imagery they are transformed into these signs, with the help of the winter, which strips them bare, freeing the landscape from the patches
of leaves, flowers and luxuriant expanses of greenery. What remains are the horizontal and diagonal lines of the landscape and the vertical tree trunks.
Along these lines, the artist builds his visions, raising the trees to an indestructible key role in a constantly-changing environment, and entrusting gesture to the weave of the bare branches, almost as if to infer an expressive significance with a pantheistic slant. A gesture that dominates and embraces the panorama from above (Alpago – Marzo 2014, page 59), that inhabits it as a discreet, lone presence (Col Indes 1 – Gennaio 2013, page 63) or more commandingly (Col Indes 2 – Gennaio 2013, page 65) or, again, that vibrates with vital energy from a playful sapling (Campea – Febbraio 2014, page 73). When the view is from
closer-to, when Francesco Galifi eliminates the distance between himself and the landscape in order to experience it from within, then the tree-cum-character becomes a sign functional to the structure of the now-pictorial space. Where the immersion of the artist in nature produces a paradox: while being closer to the truth, the image moves further from external phenomena, bordering on abstraction, in the proper, etymological sense of the word, of “pulling out”, “detaching”, separating a part from its context.
The trees are still recognizable as trees, but they no longer appear as the curious protagonists of a view, because they themselves become the essence of the landscape, constructed on the spatial structure, thanks to the vertical lines of their trunks and the horizontal and diagonal lines of their branches (Fregona – Aprile 2015, page 69). Colour also enters the equation here, but as the compendium of signs, giving a knowing pictorial wink at pointillism and drip painting (Cansiglio 1 – Febbraio 2015, page 61 and Cansiglio 3 – Febbraio 2015, page 89), introducing subjective emotional content into the photographs that counterbalances the conceptual aspect of the signs and motifs.
This aspect becomes an imperative in the works collected in the catalogue, because the pictures themselves are composed of signs and motifs. In the works, these signs and motifs are constituents of the clear geometry of the landscape, with a preference for a vertical perspective in Panigai – Febbraio 2013 (page 85), or a horizontal perspective in the movement of double lines on the horizon, such as in Pian del Cansiglio – Ottobre 2010 (page 55), where the photograph seems to be composed of two images: one in the daylight, brightened by the green fields, the other at night, immersed n the darkness of a menacing sky, lightened by the white snow on the mountains. This horizontality then becomes even more abstracted, removed from its context in Susegana – Gennaio 2015 (page 57), in which Galifi carefully adjusts and modulates the light so as to fully portray the bright stripes on the grass, allowing them to exude the colour of the sky.
The photographer uses geometrical lines to shoot panoramas viewed diagonally, such as Alpago – Marzo 2014 (page 59), where the colours contribute to the perspective of the different planes; or Col Indes 1 – Gennaio 2013 (page 63), in which the clean line of the horizon is set against the zig-zagging grooves in the surface of the snow, which look like marks carved vigorously by a sculptor, echoing the furrows in the earth and the movement of the wind.
This cycle of works by Francesco Galifi is created “in step with the landscape”, on the one hand because the author explores the natural environment, respectfully following its movement and rhythm, and on the other, because he rewrites this “movement” within a process of abstraction.
He achieves this by following a two-way path, a path of entry and exit: from the real to the visionary and vice versa. We have already witnessed this process in the relationship between two different pictures (Pian del Cansiglio – Ottobre 2010, page 55 and Susegana – Gennaio 2015, page 57), but here it appears even more incisively as we observe the hill with its rows of vines in San Pietro di Feletto – Marzo 2013 (page 77), in which the phenomenon of nature shaped by human action outlines the framework of the graphic motifs, alongside Conegliano – Dicembre 2014 (page 75), which succeeds in translating reality into visionariness to an exponential degree, with a shot that appears to veer away from photographic imagery, instead seeming like a drawing. This process of abstraction of signs in the landscape is seen in images of a wide range of different details in
Galifi’s work. We can detect an unarguable formal and spatial relationship between the white posts supporting the vines (Conegliano – Marzo 2015, page 79) and the dark trunks that stand out in stark contrast with the bold whiteness of the snow (Cansiglio – Febbraio 2013, page 81), in which only the golden leaves that have withstood the winter offer us a handhold on the reality of this image dedicated to abstract minimalism.
Thus, Galifi’s signs – in the sense of graphic motifs with the potential to rewrite reality – represent the first key to his poetry, which is constantly set against another fundamental aspect of his research, as expressed in the exhibition title: the dimension of time. “Time” in the sense of seasons, as we have seen in the photographer’s preference for the winter and for wintry weather; but in his approach to the world, we also see the emergence of time in the sense of duration, continuity, change and transformation. Because in the digital era of which Galifi himself is a part, portraying nature still implies the principle and practice of searching, seeking and waiting within the landscape. He selects a view or a detail chosen for the
way it is formed and transformed by the light, be it radiant or suffused, refracting or flooding the subject, which in turn is sculpted and coloured by the weather conditions. Like the fog, which plays such an important role in the photographer’s work, and which subtly informs two of our images here: in one case, softening it into a cotton-wool atmosphere, where the light
transforms the garden with the oxymoron of a soft, caressing frost (Prà dei Gai 2 – Dicembre 2013, page 83); in the other (Prà dei Gai 3 – Dicembre 2013, page 93) enveloping only the upper part of the photograph.
Here the muffled environment leaves us in no doubt as to the weather conditions, but translates the meaning of “time” into the sense of duration, eliminating the concept of change and transformation, as indeed is the case in many other pictures, in which the plain, white skies appear empty, providing a neutral background on which it is the expression of the graphic
motif that creates the scene. This picture is divided into two parts, and like the very first in the catalogue, it illustrates in a single shot the ephemeral boundary between the real and the visionary, between reality and abstraction. The details of the landscape in the milky atmosphere of the background are in contrast with the clods of earth in the foreground, which in turn are the absolute protagonists of Mansuè – Febbraio 2013 (page 91), where the principle of abstraction suggests a slippage from the detail of the land to a visionary, ethereal landscape.
The concept of time as duration that emerges in many images emphasises the classic intention of the language of photography: to capture the moment and translate it into something permanent. But it is this very thin line developed by Galifi between natural phenomena and abstract signs that restores to the landscape its sense of changing time, in which the meaning of being is constructed even as it transforms.