The focus of the work of Olivo Barbieri (1954, Carpi, MO) is the analysis – and the questioning – of the concept of perception, that is to say, our ability to see and interpret reality.
From the 1990s, Barbieri attained a full definition of his expressive idiom thorough the use of “selective focus” (highlighting only selected elements of the scene, leaving the rest deliberately out of focus) and a “bird’s eye” viewpoint. Flying over cities and areas of the planet in a helicopter, the photographer presents us with a disorienting image of places that appear to be closer to scale models than actual places. A surprising vision that underlines the blurred confined between real object, perception and reproduction.
In the works realised for MAXXI, Barbieri plays on the theme of the narrative sequence: both in the series on the Strait of Messina for atlante italiano003 and the one for Cantiere d’autore, the individual shots, like frames from a film, acquire full legibility from their grouping, without taking anything away from the formal autonomy of each photograph.
The series for Sguardi contemporanei, dealing with the Palazzetto dello Sport by P.L. Nervi in Rome is to be read as a progressive approach to the “heart” of the project: the constructional configuration of the roof. A sophisticated pattern that Barbieri exalts in the last shot with a rarefied image of a milky white that approaches abstraction.