The Structure of a Forest #12 (main)

Fabio BarileThe structure of a forest #12

The evolution of the natural world marks the starting point for Italian photographer Fabio Barile. He took up the medium around 2004 to photograph the landscape, a subject that has held pride of place in Italian photography since its inception in the mid-nineteenth century. Early photographers trained their lenses on Italy’s monuments; at the turn of the twentieth century, Pictorialists reproduced the peninsula’s ruin-studded hillsides in compositions inherited from paintings; midcentury modernists strived to shakeup traditional views of Italy’s storied surroundings. In 1984, Luigi Ghirri’s Viaggio in Italia invited generations of photographers—Barile among them—to reflect upon the Italian paesaggio as a reality, a symbol, and a metaphor for existence.

The structure of a forest #12, from Barile’s ongoing series, Works For a Cosmic Feeling, begun in 2018, exemplifies how the artist finds inspiration in the landscape’s constant flux. Shot with a large-format camera, the photograph records a wood in the Canale Monterano Nature Reserve northwest of Rome. “I usually head to the mountains or natural areas when I have a mental block and need to regain familiarity with the camera,” Barile has said about his photographic process. The density of brambles in this image, blurred here and there by the wind, coalesces around a triangular center that frames a pathway inviting us into the scene. The landscape’s growth from the bottom up, its density of details, and its constant evolution even in a single image illustrate Barile’s philosophy about photography: that it can reveal to us the perpetual process of becoming that defines the universe. (LH)

About the artist

Born in Barletta, Puglia, Fabio Barile recalls having a childhood fascination for cameras and their mechanics. He took up photography seriously in 2002, and attributes the Futurist Anton Giulio Bragaglia as an early influence. He received a degree in photography from the Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence in 2007. Much of his work explores fluctuating landscapes: coastal erosion, the uncertain behavior of clouds, the complex structures of forests. Underlying his photographs are ideas about cultural evolution, interconnectivity, and human consciousness. Barile’s first solo show at the gallery Matèria in Rome, Homage to James Hutton, took place in 2015. He has participated in the group exhibition On Earth: Imaging, Technology, and the Natural World at the fiftieth edition of the Rencontres d’Arles and Foam in Amsterdam. In 2019, he participated in the group show Di Roccia, fuochi e avventure sotterranee at MAXXI in Rome. Barile lives and works in Rome and is represented by Matéria.

The structure of a forest #12
Fabio Barile, The structure of a forest #12, 2021
(artwork © Fabio Barile; courtesy the artist and Matèria)
The structure of a forest #12
Installation view (from left, works by Guillermo Kuitca, Julia Solis, Fabio Barile, and Yeesookyung)
(photograph by Daniele Molajoli)