English (United Kingdom)Italiano

Critical texts

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Gigliola Foschi

.                                                             carlodelli The Tales of Mayîm

The beauty of creation is not an attribute of matter in itself: it is a relationship between the world and our sensibility (…) something beautiful doesn't contain any goodness outside of itself, of its entirety, as it appears to us. We go towards it without knowing what we will ask of it and it offers us its own existence.
Freely translated from Simone Weil,  Waiting for God

Perhaps the earth doesn't know it but it needs to be recounted; it needs someone to meet it and to sing it with words or images. “The earth doesn't have a mirror, we have to be the mirror for it,” wrote the philosopher Duccio Demetrio. carlodelli is fully aware of this: this is why his work goes beyond discourses to defend nature – the ones usually used by ecologists – and is transformed into a spiritual impulse, into a poetic feeling. In fact the earth doesn't deserve to be treated and examined as an abstraction or to be represented as a wounded body to be cured and protected. Instead the earth asks us to listen to its visual and explicit appeals as well as the buried, hidden and apparently insignificant ones; it asks us to suffer for the wounds that we inflict on it but also to allow ourselves to be enchanted by its beauty; to be aware that the holy language of the sky is bonded with that of the earth because the “home of the sky” is also down here, among the ears of wheat, the brooks, the tufts of wild grasses.

As a naturalist photographer close to the spirit that guided the great Ansel Adams, carlodelli writes, “God is not only heard or seen in church, God is also and especially seen in Nature. It is difficult to doubt that the Universe and our planet's Nature are the work of a supreme and single Being.” Only if nourished by a feeling of cosmic belonging and religiosity with regard to Nature, can mankind narrate the earth without being limited to its representation. Only in this way can mankind create art works that channel the mystery of being and bring out something that is not conductible to the certainties of thought.

Therefore it is no happenstance that Delli titles his new series of photographs The Tales of Mayîm. In fact in the opening verses of the Genesis it is written, “In the Beginning God created the skies and the earth. The earth was empty and without form, darkness covered the countenance of the abyss and the Spirit of the Lord soared over the surface of the waters (in Hebrew: mayîm).  God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated it from the dark.”  Light, created before the division between the “expanse” of the sky and the “dryness” of the land therefore played with the water (mayîm)  and it was reflected there as it ran, splashing but also writing and drawings, writes the artist. Therefore Delli's photographs want to celebrate the greatness of God, creator of heaven and earth. At the same time he wants to create almost a new canticle of that first meeting between light and waters newly freed from their blanket of darkness. Differently, however, from the great Romantic artists of northern Europe, Delli is far from the expression of the natural sublime that can be found in their art works. Of course it is fundamental for him, also, to express the experience of the spirit and of transcendence via nature taken as a manifestation of God. But Delli doesn't juxtapose the individual's fragility to the overwhelming immensity and  grandiosity of the universe, nor does he create mysterious atmospheres that suggest an other-worldly dimension (as seen in the works of such masters as Friedrich or Turner). He chooses not to turn his gaze towards the infinite sky but rather looks right down to the ground, almost grazing it. An earth that has been watered, bathed by brooks and by light. It is a light – as Dante described it in his Paradise – that is married to happiness and not to the disquieting melancholy of the Romantic artists. In Delli's images we feel joy, the rejoicing of the magical and unstable meeting between light and water. We intuit his ability to commune with and to second the changes of brook water's flowing between rough and smoothed stones.  For Delli, feeling the religiosity of the earth means to use a gaze that is willing to pose in wonder on every tiny thing in nature. Every thing that can be observed up close, trodden, touched. This is a gaze that stops looking upwards or enclosing its range in a reassuring space where it only encounters what it knows already. It is a way of looking that is able to leave the dark and guilty disenchantment of nowadays to open itself towards the infinite terrestrial spells, the enigma of being.

“We can never be quite strangers or inferiors in nature. It is flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone,” stated the American philosopher Ralph W. Emerson in the mid-nineteenth century.  And, in full agreement with that feeling, carlodelli gets down close to the earth – not just to see it – but to live it, to listen to its breath. So the artist walks alone through the landscape searching for silence until he finds a state of grace that can open his eyes, too often veiled and resistant to the beauty that nature offers us even through a single ray of light that flickers on a brook. Looking is not seeing. In order for looking to change into seeing, the philosopher Silvano Petrosino has written, it is necessary for “the act of gathering to be exercised according to the order of receiving.”  The vision must be supported by an attitude of care, by a gaze that is willing to welcome and safeguard. Thanks to Delli's way of seeing, which is capable of wonder and care for his images, there is no need here for tricks, alterations or manipulations. The images' highly vital magic originates strictly from his silent encounter with the beauty of nature, from his ability to capture the fleeting flicker of light as it dances on creek water creating bright graffiti similar to diaphanous letters of unknown alphabets, flights of invisible butterflies, notes from a nonexistent musical score. Thus his images originating from a simple and direct extraction of reality escape the banal logic of a flat representation of nature. Rather they become a mimesis of silences rather than of forms, they recall more strongly what is invisible rather than what can be seen. They become alchemy; they transform the body of nature into the living language of poetry. In this way photography becomes a path of love towards new finding, a new feeling of empathy.

.                                                                                                         Gigliola Foschi, Milan, February 2014
.                                               Professor of the History of Photography at the Italian Institute for Photography
.                                                                           member of the MIA fair committee (Milano Image Art fair)


Denis Curti, June 2009

carlodelli – Fotocreatures DigOut

The insisted echo of history. Transversal allusions. Expressive needs. Beyond everything else carlodelli's photographs present an overturning of perspective. They refer to primitive descriptions. Cut and dry signs. Absolutely brief and yet they contain, to say it in Facchinelli's words, an Expanded Time which overwhelms you, without recovering any legitimacy except that which can be mined in the deep well of art.

Gianni Celati writes that, "imagination, too, is part of the landscape: it disposes us towards a state of love for something out there…." He continues, "… we are disposed towards observation when we want to show others what we see. It is our tie to others that gives colour to things…."
This is exactly what happens when we observe this series of images. On the one hand disquieting shadows, on the other a mirror of the world. It's hard to choose where to stand. What to see. The photographer's point of view gathers the universe into an absurd miniature, where nothing looks like anything else. In another framing the things of the world are there, navigating in light and coming closer to us with millions of questions and implications.

Only with the proper distance can we find the balance necessary to understand that complex vision. It is called awareness. It is the slow, inexorable process of what we are and of what we obstinately want to change and improve upon.
But perhaps it's better to de-personalize the readings and to begin the journey all over again, this time with less weight. Allowing the eyes to be rewarded by discovery and to let these indistinct forms, sustained by patches of colour, spread out peacefully on the photographic paper.

The ecstasy finds a rhythm; it articulates creative energy, the forms' secret and almost biological growth.

Without resorting to the illusionism of philosophy with no answers, carlodelli composes images with a precise order. Just like a gold seeker, he sieves the disturbances and filters the doubts of a whole life.
In this way, with neither answers nor certainties, he succeeds in creating a kind of interior map for himself, a map of feelings with a tempo which lacks a centerpoint, which is vibrant and never still.
In the meantime, in silence, there is something moving and reviewing the forms of a lifetime.



Lorella Giudici, April 2011

From Art to Nature and Back Again: the Antiplatonism of carlodelli

“It's as if reality continuously lies behind the curtains that we tear down… There's always another one and yet another.”
Alberto Giacometti

I know, I should have started off with Plato, but I think that Giacometti's statement is the most appropriate introduction to the brief reflection that I want to make about carlodelli's images. After all, like Giacometti, Delli, too, fights to grasp reality but if, for the Swiss master, the goal was to unveil the essence, to capture its soul, for carlodelli the process of “uncovering” takes place through form. He does not avoid disguises and he sublimates the amazement of an evocative and, at the same time, alienating, image. But let's allow him to say it in his own words, “I don't start from Nature, my point of departure is from pre-existing art works. […] It is with these works in mind that I investigate specific similarities with the Natural Creation; then I go back to the point of departure, not only isolating and selecting via the framing of the image but also manipulating it digitally. This latter technique is always present albeit in a varying ratio of importance. […] I want to and, indeed, must maintain my role as a «medium» between Absolute Creation and human works.”

So carlodelli uses the lens of his camera not in a scientific way or for bucolic love but rather to unearth fragments of landscapes or microscopic portions of nature, which contain within themselves, in an evident or potental way, the forms of art. So it is that, for example, a piece of sun-scorched and bare earth easily evokes Alberto Burri's wonderful cretti or “cracks”, or a small digital intervention transforms a simple tree bark into a disturbing Munch-like figure.

In other words, art and nature are two parallel universes that reflect each other, two worlds that Plato viewed (in his tenth book of  The Republic) as separate; or rather, he considered one the copy of the other, deeming art worthless because it imitate an imitation. Too put it another way, art is a copy of nature which is, in turn, a copy of the world of ideas.

For carlodelli, on the contrary, art is the world of ideas, beginning and end of existence, cause and reason for sensible things. And if it is true that, as Plato says, “We cannot conceive of many without one”, then for Delli that one – which legitimizes nature, which is the truth addressing itself to the best part of our soul – is not the idea but art which precedes ideas and welcomes them.                                                                                                               

^ Top