Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gabriele Croppi: Urban Landscapes in Black and White

Creating something fresh in the world of landscape photography can be a challenge for even the most seasoned photographer as much of the photograph's success depends on the scene itself. If the weather is the same, or the vegetation hasn't changed, then a photographer might end up with the same image over and over again. It's the same difficulty with urban landscapes, only there's the added challenge of capturing the dynamic city life in a static scene. Gabriele Croppi goes the other way around in his black and white images of the Metaphysics of the Urban Landscapes.

Gabriele Croppi is an artist who first worked with painting in his childhood years. He then added photography (and later on, film) to his list of mediums, and ever since then he's sought to connect the world of arts to the world of photography, and vice versa. Croppi has earned extensive awards to his name, the latest of which, the European Photo Exhibition Award, was presented to him for his work on city-scapes presented here.

In his Metaphysics of the Urban Landscape, Croppi traveled to different metropolitan cities in Europe and in the US, capturing the portrait of each city in black and white. Unlike other landscape photos however, Croppi's works look unreal: strong contrasts between black and white areas, and bereft of humans in what are usually busy city intersections.

Croppi describes his series in his own words: "What interests me is the effect of the metaphysical in our thoughts and on our approach to life. This, in art as well as in photography, means going beyond, it means (that) the meaning and deep essence don’t stop with what we see.

I have interpreted urban scenes of some Metropolis, with their obvious architectural, sociological and cultural differences, but with the firm objective to give back to the final image that specific 'metaphysical dimension'. I would like to state that the result and contents of my research will not end in the images in which my project is embodied but in the way we could all look at them, filtering them with our subjectivity, with our cultural background, with all the questions, doubts, imagination which follow."

Most of Croppi's subjects are easily identifiable as there's always an iconic landmark in the scene: the Eiffel Tower or the Guggenheim Museum are familiar places to most people, but Croppi presents them in a different way. Solitary and in a sea of black and white, these landmarks take on a more somber portrait.

However, the buildings and statues aren't completely alone as there's always at least one person in the scene going about his business. The inclusion of at least one person in the scene makes them organic; the cities aren't known by their landmarks alone, but by the people that inhabit them. Thus, these photographs tell the viewer that a portrait of city isn't just about her high towers and straight roads, it's about her citizens as well.

Gabriele Croppi's website is here. His Metaphysics of the Urban Landscape is here. For a different kind of landscape photography, check out Daniel Kukla's mirror images in his Edge Effect. For a look at the man who set the standards for black and white landscapes, go over to Ansel Adams.

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