Olivio Barbieri will unveil his first series of aerial photographs of London, as part of the latest chapter in his site specific_ series. The Italian artist has become known for his iconic take on urban spaces, photographing cities, from the vantage point of a helicopter, with a custom large format camera which allows him to carefully focus on specific areas, producing images that appear to be of miniature models.
Barbieri first developed an interest in photography in the early 1970s, focusing on artificial illumination in both European and Asian cities. His detailed images of urban spaces developed into the site specific_ series over 10 years ago. Its instantly recognisable view on cities has, to date, included Rome, Las Vegas, Shanghai, New York, Bangkok, Venice, Mexico City, Tel Aviv, Brasilia and Amman, among others. In site specific_, Barbieri reinterprets urban spaces, distancing us from the human noise and hustle and bustle, presenting them to us instead as pristine, miniature renderings.
For Barbieri, it is the shape of the contemporary metropolis which interests him, rather than a literal transcription of a city.
Representing a departure in Barbieri’s style that has been happening for some years, site specific_London is far more graphic than previous projects. Barbieri has stopped using tilt shift lenses and instead has begun to reinvestigate the original idea of the project to render works which are closer to drawing. Buildings such as The Shard and St Pauls Cathedral are isolated as Barbieri explores whether architecture fits its location and how it interacts with surrounding buildings. An important aspect of the site_specific project is the perpetual shift of how places are interpreted. Barbieri explains his experience of photographing London:
‘’The texture of London from above compared to other cities looks more like a living organism. I inevitably noticed the constant throbbing of the arteries, the lines of communication, in continuous dialogue with the land and buildings and the earth.’’
Whether reworking masterpieces from the Uffizi Gallery, capturing the majestic grandeur of the world’s great waterfalls, or reinterpreting towns and cities from above in site specific_ (which also includes film, in addition to photography), Barbieri showcases both natural and manmade landscapes from his own unique viewpoint. “I always wonder if our methods of perception are actually suitable to interpret reality,” says Barbieri. “Photography is immaterial, and yet it can be as strong as a philosophical statement.”
Ronchini Gallery 22 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AN