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ElioGrazioliTavola disegno 10-100.jpg

« It happens like this to me: while I'm walking my eye falls on something, or I look up from what I'm doing and what I see appears to me to be composed in an unchangeable way. So I think about it, I take my phone and take the photo. Then I chase my thought, I also look for the words to formulate it in a way that seems right to me, the words dance and change places, as if I were composing a poem. I know well that when I see the photo again, everything will have changed, but it's not that, it's that various times and various thoughts will overlap. After all, I photograph to think, not something specific, but the thought itself, that of life. For this reason I present two sets, one of which is double, perhaps triple. This is made up of a printed selection and a larger one projected on the wall. I alternate images of surfaces and images of various subjects, so paradigmatic that for me they signify the great themes of all time and of each one. The other set, in the second room, is a homogeneous group of photographs of dust ("Polvere") covering the shrubs on the sides of a road. I took them after writing my book on dust in contemporary art, one day while I was walking in the beautiful surroundings of Castagneto Carducci. »


~ Elio Grazioli

This is how Elio Grazioli presents his exhibition in the spaces of the LuogoArteContemporanea gallery. There is a scent of the East in Grazioli's images and attitude, a hint of impermanence and awakening according to the ancient Buddhist teachings, of Japanese haiku in different aspects. Perhaps photography is indeed a contemporary version of haiku: if the Japanese did not invent it, many practice it with such an original sensitivity. Western, Grazioli interprets it in his own way, "ultra-thin", as he wrote elsewhere, referring to Marcel Duchamp; Italian, he does it with the pleasure of shuffling the cards: critic? Photographer? Artist? Maybe everything, but something anyway. The exhibition is accompanied by a text by the philosopher Riccardo Panattoni, with whom Grazioli has collaborated in great harmony for some time.

The silent gesture of the gaze

The act of looking actually corresponds more to a gesture than to a real action and this is why its way of happening, of formalizing itself, never ceases to question us, in some ways even to surprise us, as open as it is about the instantaneous happening of life. It accompanies our progress in  various situations and at the same time allows us to catch how to perceive life in progress requires a moment of arrest, a slight suspension in which the life we ​​live seems to surrender to itself: in a single glance. This is probably how photographs are born: as we proceed in the apparent linearity of time, a sort of counter-time presents itself to us and our present expands and makes itself felt. It remains caught in a nuance that is both very particular and completely inconspicuous, insistent and a little elusive, while nevertheless taking over us completely. In the instant of that suspended passage a visual trait tends to fix itself, the gaze is as if it were reflected in that fragment of reality that becomes one with what there is to see. It is an enchantment, a perfect moment, totally emptied of any strictly personal content and in which, if there was time, one could take a photograph. This, sometimes, actually happens, especially for those who have known the secret of photography, which is not in the first instance that of documenting something, but of tracing the slight passage in which life appears to us and surprises us without us, while we are the ones watching it. A moment of grace, in which we free ourselves and that fixity of image is transformed, almost alchemically, into a fixed image.

Elio Grazioli expresses all this very well in his photographs, as well as in the words that accompany this exhibition. It happens to him - it also happens to us with him - that the gaze can fall on an unexpected and inessential detail with respect to its overall function, a gaze that thus remains, for an indeterminate time, on something that in all probability would have gone completely unnoticed. Or it happens to him - it happens to us with him too - that his gaze, absentmindedly, lifts itself from the action in which he is engaged and opens, in the act of his vision, onto a sense of emptiness compared to what surrounds him, allowing that reality to appear as it is, as if it were presented to that same gaze for the first time: all wrapped up in a perfect and at the same time elusive clarity. A double movement that goes from top to bottom or from bottom to top, but perhaps it could also be understood as a movement that simultaneously tends towards both directions, impressing a correlation and a discontinuity between the particular and the void: intensity that connotes the instant perfection of that specific vision. And this is how what Grazioli defines as an unchangeable image takes shape.

The perfect fold of this visual moment, which is deposited in the legacy of some images, is however not only the restitution of that ecstatic experience of time in time. As Grazioli warns us that it is precisely at that point that he begins to look for the words to give shape to his thoughts on what happened with that photographic shot, words which, however, will be able to add nothing to the perfection of that moment, but will be able to say something about the surprise that that vision did not remain abandoned to itself, within his life, but became a fixed image. An image therefore destined not only to endure, but inevitably also to persist, to continue to show its yearning for those words now freely directed towards their own elsewhere. It is precisely in this contrast between image and thoughts that words begin to dance and change places, like when composing a poem. What the images urge us to do is therefore to lay aside any pretense of giving shape to a linear discourse and instead to let the words shine autonomously on themselves: as if they belonged, together with the images, to an exclusive creative act. Perhaps the latter resides precisely in that void that is established between the image and the word, where the act no longer actually belongs to anyone but which everyone, in their own way, can make their own. Just like what happens with a photograph or a haiku. So much so that one of the fundamental issues of this poetic composition of the Japanese tradition is precisely the spacing. An escape from the categories of space and time, to open up to an interval that makes spacing the place that simultaneously unites and separates: like the breath of a life, the impulse of an image, the silent echo of a word.

However, remaining in this correlation between photography and haiku, rather than the invitation to keep one gaze on the page and one on the reality of what is shown, it is as if, thanks to this work by Elio Grazioli, the image/haiku was written on a sheet of watermark directly with one's gaze. Because instead of writing it in the light you should pronounce it superimposed on the image that is clearly fixed in your gaze. A reiteration of one over the other, in the vague certainty of having actually passed there, in the transparency of that vision, which however no longer belongs to anyone's memory and which at the same time, precisely for this reason, becomes part of the memory of all those who have gone through it and who will remember it for a moment. The words of a haiku never written thus reverberate in the silent sound of vision, they slide into the absence, into the void of what they cannot say, they are a forgotten stopping point in the continuous pilgrimage of the gaze; while in turn the images become empty of words, pure evocation of a past yet to come: dust of time now definitively deposited in the silence of itself.

~ Riccardo Panattoni, 2023


Elio Grazioli's solo exhibition

Critical text by Riccardo Panattoni

17.02 - 16.03.2024


Saturday 17 February, 5 pm

The exhibition is visible at LuogoArteContemporanea by appointment.

Free entry.

The works on display are for sale.

For further information please write to

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