The Pienovuoto (Fullempty) project strives to exalt the eye of a photographer who knows how to capture the unstable but recurring balance between density and absence, between crowds and solitude, between crowded cities and beaches and agreeable places where the human presence is reduced to a minimum.

Italian beaches, which seem sculpted in crystal, crowded with people on holiday and absolutely clear landscapes, where people find a different dimension and a primordial relationship with nature. Aesthetically speaking, Massimo Vitali’s work draws on the history of art and not just that of photography. Italian by birth and Anglo-Saxon by training, he has an international vision and is interested in the evolution of avant-garde research at the turn of the last century and the current one. In this photography, the artist appears to be inclined not to leave traces of moments connected to identifiable historical events.

Time seems to stand still and life is expressed in a metaphysical language that seems to abolish any pretence at documentation, favouring an iconic vision drained of anything relative or contingent. In fact, his extremely gelid and crystallised world appears as though suspended in a movie still. Never are there any details that could identify current historical events, except for the titles which, at times, refer to crowded gatherings or entertaining evenings at the disco.

His work comes across as a consequence of a period of “enlightenment”, a record of places that, beyond their geographical, landscape or atmospheric interest, are immortalised for that they are and “captured” by an icy and meticulous eye for quantity of detail illustrated to the point of paroxysm. Buildings are rendered with all their identity and architectural physicality; the mountains are photographed however impossible, down to the last rock and lichee; the beaches and sand dunes, softened by the reflections and shadows, are perceptible up to the horizon. Like Canaletto and much of 18th-century painting, his eye captures every detail and transfers it to photographic paper in a realistic and analytical way.

Sergio Risaliti, curator of the exhibition Pienovuoto at Forte Belvedere, Firenze, June 25 - October 10, 2021.