The sense of smell is a beautiful oil on canvas realized by Flemish painters Jan Brueghel the Elder and Rubens in 1617-1618, now it is exposed at the Prado Museum in Madrid and it is at the center of a very original path. Until July 3, in fact, it has been set up a room in which not only you can observe the work but, thanks to some diffusers, visitors can smell the scents of ten of the more than 80 types of flowers and plants represented in the work. The painting on display in the exhibition “La esencia de un cuadro. Una exposición olfativa” is part of a series of allegories dedicated to the five senses. The scene depicted is that of a lush idyllic garden, in which a Venus is presented with a bouquet of flowers, while all around, in a suspended atmosphere, buildings and trees cover a cloudy sky.
Flower painting is one of Jan Brueghel the Elder’s specialties, capable of representing different species through the balanced use of color, groups of flowers becoming isolated still lifes. The series of “The Senses” is one of the greatest aesthetic successes of the collaboration between the two artists, the curator of the section of Flemish paintings of the Prado Alejandro Vergara believes that the sensory experience can make better known the works of an elegant and refined painter but often in the background as Brueghel. Among the essences diffused in the room are those of as many as seven flowers, including daffodils, orange blossom, jasmine and spikenard, but also that of fig, leather and tobacco, or other elements symbolic to the history of perfumes as far back as the 1600s. Among these less common perfumes there is Zibetto, an essence obtained from the glands of the animal of the same name (represented in the painting) often present in the perfumes of the sixteenth and seventeenth century as a fixative.
“We cannot take anything or anyone for granted. Let us celebrate what is beautiful in life. Let us go through the hard times and remain standing.” With these words we enter into the poetics of Basque photographerAndoni Beristain who, with simple objects and colorful landscapes pays homage to the beauty of life. His Basque origins are fundamental in his research and particularly evident in his aesthetic. In his still life photographs, his personal vision of life emerges: colorful, optimistic and ironic.
With this series of shots by Andoni Beristain that we are offering today, we evoke the coming summer and everyone’s desire for carefree time. But despite the warm colors, the sea, the beach, and elements such as plastic chairs and fans that immediately harken back to summertime, a certain nostalgia lurks behind these shots. Summer lightness is accompanied by a streak of loneliness. A chair is alone in the sea. A game is carried by the waves. An egg hangs in the sun. A man floats alone in the sea. These are all lonely scenes that evoke a certain sense of abandonment. Probably, with these shots Andoni chooses to call to mind the dualism typical of summer, on the one hand we long for it but on the other hand we never get to enjoy it. And here Beristain’s phrase returns and his desire to teach us to savor the moment, to be able to lead the classic slow life, which is increasingly difficult to implement today.
Born in 1980, J. Jason Chambers is an American photographer who captures America through his shots, traveling from state to state and drawing inspiration from the New Topographics Movement. As you browse through the photographer’s shots, it feels like you’re seeing a very different America from what we imagine. Bright neon signs, gas stations, and old cars suspended in an almost cinematic atmosphere. Chambers appears to be in constant motion, from California to Wall Street, passing through the desert. The photographs taken in New York contrast with the desert suggestions of New Mexico and the Texan landscapes of Marfa.
J. Jason Chambers’ reflection on a new man-influenced topography is inspired by an exhibition from 1975 in Rochester called New Topographics. On this occasion, ten photographers showcased their work, dealing with the arrival of Conceptualism and Minimalism in photography during the 1970s. In 2010, the SFMoMA decided to revive this exhibition, revealing the pre-existing bridge between the world of contemporary art and photography.
The point of convergence between Chambers’ photography and New Topographics lies in the relationship between man and the environment. Gas stations, motels, or parking lots have now become part of our imagination when it comes to landscapes, just as they were in the 1970s.
To discover more shots by J. Jason Chambers here is his Instagram profile.
“There are diferent hypotheses on how we came into the world, who says from animals as evolution of the species and who says by the hand of God, but we certainly know that when we leave this planet what will remain of us will be just dust.” with these words Italian photographerMatteo Zanin (1986) reflects on our fate through a series of artistic nude shots. Dust, crumbs, debris, and ashes are the starting point of his photographic project POLVERE in which natural matter and the human body become one.
In an arid environment devoid of vegetation, a naked, snow-white, light-looking woman wanders through the desert landscape, blending in and blending with it. “Woman is the living being who comes closest to nature because like her she is the only one who can create another life.” Zanin reflects.
The shots belong to an ethereal sphere, which sends the viewer back to an almost apocalyptic scenario. The last woman on the planet, a solitary nymph, in search of water, of a source of life. Over time her body joins with nature, until she becomes part of it. By contorting himself he imitates her forms, embracing her he shows her love.
His passion for street photography and his cinematic approach, as well as his experience in the field of fashion, particularly emerge in the series POLVERE, capable of summarizing Matteo Zanin’s artistic identity and returning a series of contrasting feelings. Nature can give but it can also take away.
June 2 – Italian Republic Day – is a day that has the power to make feel patriotic even the Italians, who are famous for not being patriotic when compared to others, such as the Americans or the British. In fact, if we must be honest, there are more times when Italians criticize her, Italy, than the times when they pause to appreciate and love her. Perhaps, the times when Italians love her the most is when they are away from her. When what they miss is even a simple plate of spaghetti or the crazy horns in traffic. Photographer Irene Ferri, with her project IT∀LIA, reasons precisely about this. On “Italian dualism,” on the hate-love that characterizes their feelings toward what is their land. A dualism that recurs often in Italy, North and South, sacred and profane, tradition and innovation, and that characterized that day, June 2, 1946, when the choice was made between Monarchy or Republic, between an old Italy or a new, renewed and democratic one. With IT∀LIA, Irene Ferri challenges these contradictions and takes Italians to celebrate their country through a participatory project that has lasted since 2020. Online she opens a box in which she invites Italians to answer the questions: What ties you to Italy? What do you miss when you are far away? In this way, the thoughts of hundreds of Italians are translated into evocative shots capable of making us smile and move.
The Italy project stems from the personal story of photographer Irene Ferri who, after years living in Los Angeles, felt the call of her homeland. In the States she was surrounded by people who constantly told her how beautiful Italy was and how much they appreciated it. “I usually hear more appreciation from foreigners than from Italians. We are a very critical people compared to others. Social media is teeming with negative and heavy comments on everything, on every decision, even on the weather.” says Irene. Hence the decision to create something for Italians, a photo archive to remind them that this nation is worth loving. Despite the fact that they choose to leave it for a while or forever and even if they can only appreciate it if they are a little further away.
Back in Italy, Irene Ferri tells us how what she missed most of all was the concept of the square, that mingling of people and the din of laughter, of words spoken aloud. “On my return to Italy, I had a positive shock,” says Irene, “I went to the supermarket and once at the cashier’s desk, while I was rummaging through my wallet looking for money, the cashier said, ‘Don’t worry, if you don’t have it, bring it to me tomorrow.‘ I was stunned. It had been three years since I had heard something like that.“
Reflections like Irene’s come flooding into her inbox, and from here her Italian journey begins, in search of that Italian-ness and those memories evoked by people. Irene Ferri’s archive is now full of shots that are sometimes romantic, sometimes more ironic, telling Italy through the eyes of those who love it, from near or far. From the laundry spread out in the sun to the rosary swinging from the rearview mirror. From set tables to somewhat improvised soccer fields.
Below are some of the photographs, accompanied by the suggestions received.