Photographs by Francesco Maria Colombo

Exhibition curated by

Denis Curti

Opening hours

Every day 10.00 – 18.00; closed Tuesday

Sixty portraits in black and white and colour of cultural Italian personalities, from 24 up to 104 years old. Solids and spaces. Silences and shudders. They are of Toni Servillo, Dario Fo, Bernardo Bertolucci, Peppe Barra, Claudia Gerini, Margherita Hack, Gillo Dorfles, Valerio Mastandrea, Luciana Savignano…Perhaps they are merely the celebrities who gave the most. And to be a celebrity there must be a camera lens watching and a special eye looking through the viewfinder, that of Francesco Maria Colombo. We end up looking at these portraits and being deeply fascinated by them. Taking photos is almost like reading the mind for Francesco Maria Colombo, so skilled is he at capturing the intimacy of his subjects.

Every one of his portraits seems like a considered gesture corresponding to a moment of inattention on the part of the subject, who has allowed himself to be portrayed almost by error. And it is precisely inside that error, inside the yielding of the subject that the pictures’ prime interest can be grasped; their almost dramatic, certainly unique and distinctive appearance. Picture after picture, all doubts disappear (laughter also becomes rarer) and it is possible to detect a double level of planning made by the person who took these photos.

The first has to do with the modest, reserved poses of the subjects who in this gallery of portraits express themselves in the places they belong. The second, though, is related to a subtle and constant search by the photographer for the ideal photo. In the light of such levels of reading, each corresponding to the point of view of the photographer and the subject, Francesco Maria Colombo’s pictures seem to reveal the final act of a study that follows, explores and draws out his subject up to the moment he decides to open the camera’s shutter. In this sense every portrait in the sequence seems to reveal a secret. Every mouth is at the point of saying something. And we often ask ourselves: but what was there between those two? Francesco Maria Colombo’s photos seem like the outcome of a course of learning that explores the world of culture, science and research through the art of the portrait. The subjects are considered in the single frame of a world so appealing as to arouse interest at every point, face or staging. They are actors, philosophers, musicians, writers and scientists, all captured in their own context, free to choose the settings and attributes of their portrayal.

The scene is repeated each time with different input, though always dictated by the photographer’s aim of fully understanding his chosen subject. So that even those who are most shy and reticent before the camera lens abandon themselves to it and express themselves in more authentic poses. In those moments, which are as rare as they are fleeting, the way in which the photographer can achieve his dream gradually takes shape. From that moment on it will be easier for him to attain the ideal of the representation that fully retains the look and the heart.

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