Gabriele Basilico

21st August 2019

Research point – Diffused light
To prepare for the next exercise, look online at the cityscapes of Gabriele Basilico. Notice the smooth quality of light, the sense of space and the way architecture seems more like sculpture, with its shape and form emphasised.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course Folder pg47
Bord de mer, 1984

My favourite photograph of Basilico’s is above. I love the contrasting sea and land areas, buildings clustered on the edge of an empty space and the harsh contrast of the black and white image.

The following link will take you to Gallery Anne Barrault, here you can view a cross-section of Basilico’s cityscapes work both in black and white, and colour. Gallery Link This link will take you to my review of his book Gabriele Basilico 55 by Phaidon, it has 55 photographs and excellent accompanying text.

Basilico is a noted international (Italian) photographer who photographs urban landscapes and cityscapes. His work is documentary in style but rarely includes any human presence within the picture plane. This means that he is focusing on the buildings and how they relate to their environment and the other buildings around them. In fact, for me his works remind me of an end of the world scene in a film, void of characters, they have all gone, they are nothing but memories and history. We the viewer can therefore imagine the people that live within these cities or, in the case of his destroyed and run down buildings, we can ask, where have the people gone, what were they like? How did the buildings become such a harsh reminder of loss of hope, decay and conflict? In fact some of his work give me the feelings related to despair, so much destruction and all man made.

Shangai, 2010

We are asked to ‘notice the smooth quality of light,’ within Basilico’s work. However, I personally feel that his black and white works differ greatly from his coloured works. The black and white images are stronger due to the contrast within the images. The colour work has little to see, flat areas of light colour broken by the dark shadows of where the windows once were.

If we compare the photographs above, the coloured photographs are smooth almost flat due to lack of sunlight and shadows. The subdued colours also aid the smoothness of the look of the buildings. However the black and white photographs have more contrast and shadows. Therefore the dynamics are different from the coloured images.

Although, for me, the black and white photographs give a different feeling from the coloured ones, they do have qualities that are alike depending on the type of image that has been taken that is.

Firstly, Basilico has taken some of the photographs from amazing viewpoints and they often look down upon our world. There is an abstract element to his work, lines, shapes and grids that come together and build a three-dimensional form together and this is why they look like monuments or sculptures. Secondly some of his work reminds me of archaeology and the discovery of ruins, they look like he has been searching for them, found them and is documenting they existence for the first time in years. Their decay, their history and their lost civilisation.

Beirut, Libano, 1991

Basilico is not recording an important or rare moment as it happens, for example, he is not present at a riot and presenting us with what is happening to the people and the places at that one specific time. He is taking photographs that are telling stories of people but through their housing developments, surrounding industrial environments and through images that show the ugliness of human behaviour – the ruins left through the destruction that mankind does to others and the places they live. So his stories can be historical, documents of times gone by and of the economical downfall of societies. HOWEVER, all this sadness and harshness shown is photographs are produced beautifully by their amazing sense of perspective, shape and form.

It has been an eye opener seeing his work for the first time and I absolutely find it inspirational.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s