1:9 Research Point – Gabriele Basilico

“Research point – Diffused light

To prepare for the next exercise, look online at the cityscapes of Gabriele Basilico. Notice the smooth quality of light, the sense of space and the way architecture seems more like sculpture, with its shape and form emphasised.”

Obituary from the Guardian

I had never come across Gabriele Basilico before this course, which is a shame, as I really like his work. The Guardian obituary gives a really good insight into the way his work developed through his life, and how similar themes emerged.

“According to the photographer and writer Italo Zannier, Basilico’s place in 20th-century Italian photography was assured by his style of “1930s sophistication”, his “controlled and knowing metaphysical tension” and his achievement in “combining a postmodernist taste for peripheral architecture with an archaeological approach … documented in an intense chiaroscuro”. Although Basilico latterly explored colour and digital photography, his lifelong passion was for often ominous shades of black and white and the use of classic cameras, particularly his large-format Rolleiflex.”

I like the reference to archaeology in the quote from the obituary above, it really describes his work, the sense of emptiness – as though people once inhabited the places but are now long gone. This is particularly poignant in relation to his images of Beirut after its destruction, and he remarked upon it himself after his first visit there:

“It seemed to me some people had just left and others were about to return. All in all, the situation seemed almost normal – the city had just entered a long period of waiting.”

108401-md
Beirut, Libano, 1991. (Gabriele Basilico)

I also noticed that many of his images are defined by a strong line – either diagonal or horizontal that breaks the image up into abstract spaces. There are also lots of edges and corners – a coastline, the edge of a building, a railway track, rooftops. Another compositional theme is symmetry. This careful delineation of spaces in his work is part of his own definition of his work as  “a measurer of space

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finally some of Basilico’s smaller scale images are also defined by a sense of people who have just disappeared. Compare his lovely image of a bicycle in a doorway with Bresson’s famous Hyéres, France 1932 where the cyclist is very much present…

sfmoma-hcb-01-hyeres-1932
Hyéres, France 1932: H Cartier-Bresson
2018-03-03 08.39.56 pm
Novi, 1970s: G. Basilico

I shall definitely follow up this photographer, as his themes and style resonate with some of the things I am hoping to achieve in my own photographs.

1 Comment

  1. Good bit of research Marion, I too had never come across Basilico’s work and like you are very taken with it. Being introduced to photographers work that I wasn’t aware of is one of the things I really like about this course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s