“Her one arm is half-raised above the parapet of the water’s edge all soft and white-gone from the limb its rose pigment associated with the flourish of life”
Her one arm is half-raised above the parapet of the water’s edge all soft and white-gone from the limb its rose pigment associated with the flourish of life. The limb is cold, thin and naked. The gentle push and pull to and away from the mud and twigs lined up like drunk soldiers at the edge of the cresting waterline lull her back and forth like a nursery rhyme completely in synch with the tepid warmth of the summers day and the alabaster sag of the form’s integument holdings bear silent witness to movement. Grass grows between his toes, his own form rooted like starlight billions of years away, perhaps 13 billion, perhaps more slowly (if time were co-ordinates) towards the blue and green marble nestled amongst so many other marbles. The mosquitos swarm and the palpitating march of the drum corps beat against his ears as I watch and I recpognize that the drumming in his head oscillates between a hum and the deafening burst of a dam whose concrete semi-circular mass can no longer hold the volumes of reserve it has been enlisted to enforce-with this, he exhalesthe animus from his pneumatic interior. It works a silvery sliver of spittle from the corner of his mouth with its intent as a refraction against the world…whirrr…. click….grass begins its ascent through his toes yet again and in the ritual return of oxygen, he sucks in a mosquito with his single new deep breath.
Narcissus was famous and beautiful. His mouth was always open as though to form a prayer to some unknown wood God featured in the literature of the ancient world. With a kiss of the mirror he inoculated himself from the twisted contortion the world had found necessary to yoke him with and ushered into a blissful and memorable death. The drum repeats is casual cadence and the white alabaster of the arm remains, a monarch butterfly lands on it, does a little dance as the skin prickles and with a sudden sharp shock, the arm levitates and a great sucking sound from the woman’s breasts having risen from the mud that in turn suckles their form detaches from the shore’s mud and the clear blue water to form a underwater cloud of mud swirling just above her wrists.
“With a kiss of the mirror he inoculated himself from the twisted contortion the world had found necessary to yoke him with and ushered into a blissful and memorable death”
Rivulets slide down the folds and crevices over her body, her skin prickled and her mouth forming a laugh as a response to the effort, but is delivered in the form of a slight curse. In the excitement, the mosquito lodged in his throat makes a last attempt to remove itself from its impending doom and fails. It is left clinging just long enough, its small parasitic form wet from the saliva at the back of the man’s throat. It clings to the remnants of a filling capped molar-a memory is etched somewhere in the man’s thoughts of cracking a tooth biting a peach seed long ago, one gifted from his aunt in Torino.
I am saving a theoretical discourse regarding Johann Joachim Winckelmann and the Greek ideal as it relates to photography for Bill Henson’s New book Sic Transit. It would perhaps be prudent to have a similar discussion here as well. Massimo Leardini’s Elv (also Stanley/Barker, 2020) is the most graduated work in book form that I have seen of Leardini and his study of the Scandanavian environment and the female nude. There are similarities to his former books here as he continues to investigate and navigate the same subject matter, although here the edit has greatly helped bring his vision to life.
“There are similarities to his former books here as he continues to investigate and navigate the same subject matter, although here the edit has greatly helped bring his vision to life”
Though it perhaps shares a common threads between his book Iselin and perhaps oddly for those familiar with his books, also Catarsi. The reason I mention these books is Iselin shares a very similar series of images to what is found in Elv (Trans. River). The female figure and her portrait bear a similarity of study, but the edit in Elv encourages a deeper investigation of seriality in double and triple page sequences and the recurring theme of nature as evinced through the river and forest makes Leardini’s conceptual desire more apparent. Ir is simply tighter. Further, the tree branches act as a way in which to obfuscate his subject more thus rendering the female form more akin to a gothic garden statue hidden amongst the thicket and thorns of an abandoned chateau. Leardini is also working the particulars of depth of field to his advantage. Form becomes revealed through the branches of the trees and his aim-as in Catarsi-is to focus on sculptural form with a primacy that was only hinted at previously.
What makes this book stand out is the way in which the artists has evolved as an image-maker and the tight thoughtful edit between him and the publishers. Whereas before I could see Leardini’s work as a competent study of the female form, with Elv, I see it as a masterly study of the book form which happens to include environmental and nude studies. He has also graduated in posing and is now using the Scandanavian wooded environment to a more advantageous position-he reveals the female form, but does not dwell on it insincerely. There is synthesis between the natural world and the corporeal now that was only hinted at previously. This feels more mature than earlier works. I am reminded in places of Raymond Meeks Halfstory Halflife and even perhaps, Frederick Sommer to some small degree. Form here does not have to follow a function. It is considered as a synthesis to the land.
This book feels mature and I think with a different publisher, Leardini’s work can be seen as something approaching the masterful. I believe this to be an incredible stand alone book, but now I am very curious as to what comes next. I beoieve between his evolution as an image-maker and working with a contemporary publisher with a new set of eyes, it will be possible to move Leardini into a wider sphere of praise and recognition. I was not surprised to be interested int he work, but i was surprised at its new effectiveness. Highly Recommended.