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© Elio Ciol

Misty, magical moments

by at 19/12/2011 20:02

Elio Ciol : ‘Il fascino de vero’ (‘Charm of Reality’)

‘Piazzetta San Marco. Venezia, Italia, 1955’

© Elio Ciol

‘Piazzetta San Marco. Venezia, Italia, 1955’

Through Jan. 22 at the Gallery of Classical Photography, 23 Savvinskaya Nab., korpus Б, (495) 510 7713/7714, m. Sportivnaya, www.classic-gallery.ru
Open Wed.-Sun. noon- 9 pm; tickets are 250 rubles

This December, 82-year-old Italian photography legend Elio Ciol arrived in Moscow to open his solo exhibition at the Gallery of Classical Photography. He wasn’t well known in Russia before this visit, but he certainly made an impression.

The exhibition is called “Il fascino de vero” – or “Charm of Reality” – yet it is hard to believe the images are real, so blissfully peaceful they are. Ciol told The Moscow News that no matter what he photographed, he had always been interested in the harmony and peace radiating from everything around. He said he was lucky to be born in a small village, Casarsa della Delizia, which is “full of light, freedom and air.”

“Maybe it’s the reason of my attitude towards the world, the feeling of harmony, beauty and peace,” he said.

Ciol’s father was a photographer who owned a studio, so Elio was used to working with camera obscura and in a darkroom from childhood. The boy was fascinated by the technical aspects of the job and began photographing at the age of 15. Despite his wish to become a mechanic, he was so thrilled after winning a third place in a photo competition that he got positive about his future occupation.

Ciol is a strong portraitist, but having photographed people for money for a long time he came to prefer landscapes and architecture. The few portraits included in the exhibition show people full of life, health and humor, be they girls giggling at love letters or middle-aged nuns praying.

‘In San Pietro. Roma, Italia, 1955’

© Elio Ciol

‘In San Pietro. Roma, Italia, 1955’

The exhibition also features several photos of “graphic forms” of Italy in the mist, which is dear to the author. One of the places Ciol photographs the most is Assisi, the native town of St. Francis. “Assisi is a mix of a beautiful landscape, untouched medieval town and spirituality,” said Ciol. “It’s a cradle of Italian art; the latter was born from these basilicas. A person with a sense of beauty gets so many possibilities here.”

The image he loves the most is “Basilica in the Mist” from 1957.

“People seem to be swimming out of the mist. Such mysterious moments don’t happen often,” he said.

He still travels a lot, photographing not only around Italy but in many other countries including Libya, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Mongolia and Armenia. “You should look at any country with your heart,” he said.

Explaining his ability to create academically correct images, Ciol said it is easier now, but back when everyone still worked with film and manual settings, he didn’t want to spend time thinking about the rules.

“You need to master the technique and own it, otherwise it will set you back,” he said. “I use a camera to express myself, and I want to capture a moment immediately, not reflecting on technical details. Everything should be in autopilot mode.”

During his long career Ciol had more than 100 personal exhibitions. His photographs illustrate more than 200 books and are exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and many other museums and galleries around the world.

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