Luigi Ghirri was an Italian photographer who created landscape and architectural photographs of a more conceptual nature, looking at the fragility between people and their environments. The use of colour in his images expresses a lot of the features used in the first wave of colour photography. In that the colour takes precedence when reading the image and evokes feelings of nostalgia. Much like in Christenberry's photographs of Hale County.
His visual style is that of softness and presenting what is often mundane subject matter in a formal and elegant manner, making great use of colour and light. The way Ghirri composes his subject matter is reminiscent of metaphysical paintings that explore the relationship between mind and matter. Personally I find his imagery ethereal and dreamlike even though his images are of real places. His photography very much like Eggleston's work feels as though to depict a world created by Ghirri which I think is a magical quality to his photographs.
Above is one of my personal favourite photographs I have found of Ghirri's which is of an Italian beach. I think the composition in this image is particularly powerful and feels rather theatrical with this natural framing device isolated in the centre of the image. Which breaks up the parallel lines created by the sand meeting the sea and the horizon line. The vast sense of space created in this photograph around this wooden structure helps distort how we perceive distance in this image, with the bright daylight making the sea appear flat. Which is also added to by the only diagonal lines in the photograph created by the shadow from the rectangular frame. Without this the image would easily resemble a two dimensional painting, especially if viewed from a distance.
This image also uses colour in an beautifully intriguing way. As the brightness of the daylight has desaturated the sea and sand which I feel emphasises the vastness of space in this image. Using colour to allow us as the audience to view something visually in a way we are not used to. Which I think evokes a response that is introspective and spiritual in nature. I think this kind of response is particularly powerful in the case of Ghirri's work, because these pictures made by capturing real life subject matter is evocative of the kind of response I would normally associate with abstract pieces of art.
Looking at Ghirri's work has really made me consider how we can use the literal world around us to explore the immaterial world, and that non abstract genres of photography such as architecture and landscape photography can be used to explore non-physical subject matter and not solely as a means of representing reality.
|Images taken from the book Voyage Dans Les Images by Luigi Ghirri|