“Only one half of the world is visible, the other remains invisible.”
Li Xiao Ming teaches Taoism. The above statement is ascribed to him. Italian photographer Vittorio Gui has kept to the Tao teachings since 1995. It was that statement that made Gui start his search for motifs from a world lying in the hills above Bologna. He lives a secluded life there in harmony with nature. To Vittorio Gui, photography is a meditative moment, a “frozen moment” within endless sequences of time. With his photographic work, he does not intend to tell stories, neither does he want to amuse nor shock people. His theme is pausing, coming to rest, getting involved with a most unobtrusive picture the aesthetic radiation of which will enthral us. He aims at allowing the spectator to settle down and imparting to him that reality is not necessarily what we see. It is the view behind. A feather is no feather with him, it makes landscapes, ocean waves, views, top views, fragile somethings with infinite possibilities. The whiteness of the feather stands out against a blue, a red and/or a yellow undercoat, the paper thus promising new insights.
A photographer´s son, he grew up with the camera. It has been a familiar medium from early childhood. His father, however, who was a press photographer, advised his son against choosing the career of a photographer.
The motif of Vittorio Gui´s first pictures was animals from his domestic surroundings. He did not, though, photograph them in their natural environment but staged them in a scenery he himself determined. Yet, when he developed the first photo according to his own imagination, he was quite sure it was so unusual that he could not but present it to the public. And he knew that he had found his profession. Self-confidently, he entered a new gallery in Bologna and on the spot got an exposition. Gallerist Daniela Facchinato recognized the young man´s special talent. At the Bologna art fair his works were presented successfully. The Düsseldorf gallery Voss spontaneously joined in and, by participating in international art fairs, made them accessible to a broad public. Moderate prices soon brought commercial success, too.
And Gui´s secret? There is no secret about this kind of photography. Flowers appeal to everybody, particularly their blossoms. Captured on black paper, with blurred and, at the same time, sharp contours, removed from any realistic context and raised into a new artistic space, the beauty of the blossoms intensifies the effect of the rather large works. Vittorio Gui protects his photos from misrepresentation and interpretation by putting them in frames which, like a second skin, complete the work of art. The wooden frames are of enormous size, lacquered coal-black, and perhaps this is why they give shelter to the fragile photos. Thus knowing that his work is guarded, the artist can confidently hand it over to the art lover. Even though some would prefer just the photo. No deal without the frame. The photo is a Gesamtkunstwerk. All of Vittorio Gui´s photographs are the standard size of 136 x 186 cm. This requires space. Space and a distance between the spectator and the picture.
The spectator cannot do without that distance so as to make the essence of the picture´s subject take effect as a bright island of light dipped into pitch-dark and thus brought to the foreground. The tender object looks embossed and, because of this, becomes incomparable.
In addition to the classical black-and-white photography, there are also variations in white-white or lilac-lilac. The different colourings make the forms more mysterious or more open, more meditative or just turn them into breathtaking eye-catchers which are a feast for the senses. Flowers, says Vittorio Gui, keep still. They do not move and, by their immobility, support concentration. To Gui, who has found his spiritual home with Taoism, the pictorial reproduction of the flower-head is no plain portrayal but concentrated energy. So to say, the blossom as the inner eye and the black or white ground as the reflection screen.
Never, he says, would humans want to depict only. In his opinion, man would then be the object of the work whereas, to him, the work is the object of his own philosophy.
Vittorio Gui´s photographic work has existed only since the year of 2000. During this short time he has made an international name for himself; his photographs are an important contribution to the current aesthetic discourse.
Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf