by Ike Onyewuenyi
Fashion portraiture in the vein of street style has typified Francesco Vezzola's creative oeuvre for the last five years, with his PIMPUMPAM work being coveted by the likes of Vogue Italia, Marie Claire, and L'Officiel Russia, just to name a few. However, with "Earth, Wind and Fire," Vezzola's first solo exhibit, the Italian photographer took a somewhat Elysian departure from fashion to reflect upon the place and role of man in creation, in various contexts.
The wilderness and stillness of the primitive volcanic landscape of the Canary Islands provides Vezzola an apt backdrop to marvel at nature in hopes of arriving at some sort of understanding about how this vast, lunar-like topography came to be. Many of the long-shots depict an often scarce terrain speckled with the occasional human, sometimes grouped in twos or threes. Yet it's the solitary figure cycling through a rock-strewn landscape or perched on a crag before a blear of steam that really resonates with Vezzola's desire to “put more emphasis on the basic elements and to encourage divine imagination on the Earth at its beginning and probably on how it will be at its end."
"Earth, Wind and Fire" is undergirded by Genesis 1:9-10, but the hollowness of the exhibit's panoramic stills of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria islands encourages an anthropomorphic reading of the text. Vezzola says, "I'd like for people to leave thinking about their roles in nature and with the Earth. Perhaps these thoughts will spill over into deeper reflections on the oil drilling agreement between Repsol and the Spanish government that stands to endanger the heaven of Lanzarote."
The implications are many, but the layers of "Earth, Wind and Fire" are by means no accidental. Everything accurately reflects the juncture Vezzola is at in his artistry—where exploration of self seems seminal. In antithesis to his "PIMPUMPAM" work, "Earth, Wind and Fire" was shot entirely in film, which allowed Vezzola a more intimate interaction with the subject matter. The artist hopes that this experimental process is relayed to his viewers as they grapple with imagining the Earth's creation in new forms.
"Earth, Wind and Fire" runs until the end of August at the 24 Cocktail Bar, Cunettone di Salò.
Images courtesy of Francesco Vezzola