I confess I never felt the slightest attraction to those images showing landscapes, things, still life. My interest and my passion lies in human beings, and within human beings what I value most are their faces. I am passionate about faces. For the same reason I love Facebook, that, being based on the exhibition of our real faces, swept away that hideous fashion (started by the insufferable Baudrillard and ended into the huge bluff of Second Life) of theorizing fiction, simulation, taking refuge behind false identities. Given that, it’s easy to understand how much these Volti by Fabrizio Bergamo amazed me. First of all, because with these artworks he is able to catch and highlight (well beyond the pure aesthetic level) the life inhabiting a face. And then because these Volti tell us everything there is to know about time, age and the human essence itself. Volti exhibited by Fabrizio have, unavoidably, a certain age: but at the same time their age does not correspond to their mere vital statistics, because they seem to comprehend every age altogether, the entire life experience of the subjects, the “here and now” and the atemporal dimension, and all the memories, the insights, the signals, the strengths and weaknesses, the agonies and the ecstasys that concurred in the actual making of that person, that face. These quintessential faces are exactly as they have to be, they could never be different. Fabrizio shows their extraordinary ordinary nature, the Force and its dark side: inseparable, necessary, vital.
In these times, when everything “must be seen” and everything is so tiresome, being a professional photographer is a real adventure. Like a journey into Africa in the Nineteenth century: the risk is to lose your way, and worse, to be forgotten.
Moreover, if, say, during the last twenty years, the same photographer wants more, and following an overwhelming creative illumination, decides to trespass the limits of his job’s repetitiveness and to “become an artist”… well, the danger gets really great, exposing him to the terrible risk of banality!
The culture of sight has been nearly destroyed beyond repair by the image democracy, and its massification granted by technology and by social networks (containers of poorly hand-made performances): we are descending a worse spiral.
Then, one day, you come across one of those weird cases of redemption through art, that mankind is able to invent during its darkest and difficult hours: we had already had a taste with the ten portraits exhibited in December, at the HQ-HEADQUARTERS gallery in Milan, within the collective PICKS, IN-COMPLETO.
Looking at his collection of paintings, with its remarkable absence of order and linearity, was like experiencing the original description of an instant.
Using the words of Vladimir Jankélevitch: “… Time as an instant is an opportunity to convey cognitive, moral and artistic creativity.”
This is the perfect synthesis of Bergamo’s quest to create his encyclopaedia of faces, from the original pain of the Holy Shroud to the portraits of adventurous artistic characters to common people, where he found the spark: the multifarious and polyvalent essence of reality.
When you meet Volti by Fabrizio Bergamo in the flesh, you get a weird emotion. People, artists and flowers (these are intended as the gentler face of life). Portraits, dark wooden frames, very ancient and solid, encasing a deep darkness.
It’s important to understand that this darkness is not a colour, it’s a dimension to be approached, that becomes more and more substantial within its shadow’s dance, finally achieving the genuine three-dimensional nature that only the magic aura of a portrait is able to convey.
Then you get confused, you cannot understand the artwork in front of you: an extraordinary pictorial quotation, almost a rebirth of a contemporary Caravaggio-style, or… what could it be? This is the magic: the portrait takes you away, and the things you cannot see, because they are hidden beneath the expert use of shadows, reach you as insight or visual fantasies.
Your eyes seem to smell, taste, feel and create a sensorial vision, truly magic.
Bergamo takes us by the hand and guides us into his personal dimension, where darkness is enlightened, where the encounter between eternal holiness and secularity takes place.
You are able to grasp the creative work carried out by the artist, transfiguring mankind through symbolism, starting from the Holy Shroud, too.
He is so curious that he is able to create a formal and narrative relationship, instead of a conflict: the good and the bad are not seen as enemies, but as parts of the human nature.
The dramatic study of the light carried out by Bergamo lead us to find a correspondence with the art of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
There is a combination of physical and emotional that leads to a real uniqueness, thanks to the original creative process, too.