I wasn’t born in Venice, but my dad was. He is one of the so called ‘true Venetians’, one of the few born in Venice, with Venetian parents, grandparents and so on. They aren’t a lot and he is extremely proud of it. Venetians are proudest and most stubborn people I have ever met. Perhaps they inherited it from their ancestors, the people that more than a thousand years ago decided to build a city on swampland. Without a good amount of stubbornness and obstinacy they won’t have succeeded.
At the time the land that now holds Venice was the most unwelcoming, marshy place, made only of mud and salt. Those people managed to build the most beautiful city ever on it, and they are rightfully very proud of it. Perhaps once they realized they were actually walking on the water, they went a bit too far with the self-celebrations, but I guess it’s understandable.
They started from the foundations, as there wasn’t any. They went all the way to the Cadore, in the North, they cut enough trees for millions of piles, brought them all the way back to the laguna and started building.
On those foundations made of unstable mud and Alpine wood, they placed stones from Istria, lime from Dalmazia and later, together with St. Mark’s body, the marbles from the East arrived.
The city itself is a combination of places and cultures and perhaps it’s what made Venice an alive entity, a crossroad for people from all over the world.
It was and it still is the enchanted city for every romantic, the source of inspiration for artists and dreamers, the mysterious place to discover for the adventurous and the curious.
Before arrival they can imagine its bones made of a hundred islets connected by bridges like tendons, its blood that runs in the canals, the elaborate laces of the palaces. What they can’t imagine and what strikes anyone who arrives in Venice for the first time, it’s its light.
That light embraces and penetrates everything absorbing the city in a timeless time that can only be described by the paintbrush of a painter. Venetians have always known it and they spent quite a lot of time with colours and canvases.
Today in every major museum all around the world you can find paintings by Venetians. And if we consider how few the Venetians were and are compared to other cities, we can easily see how many artists this city created.
In Venice everything is painting. Even architecture and sculpture have a pictorial soul: the marbles, the bricks, the geometries are made of colours and light, they are like paint spreading from its calli to the air and from the air to the eyes and the hands of the painters.
On the canvases of the artists from elsewhere, the forms and the colours work together, here they merge together. Colours enter into the forms creating unique vibrations of light, in the canvases and also all around the city.
The secret of Venetian art is Venice itself. Because of its unstable foundation on which impossible architectures stand tall, because of its fluid streets made of water and especially because of its light, you are in a state of constant excitement.
You can never know for sure if what’s around you is real or just an illusion. The rest of the world disappears beyond the borders of the lagoon and you believe it’s the only reality possible. You can’t live in this city, Venice lives you.
The delicate balance between water, wood, stones and light is the result of great discipline and at the same time a bit of recklessness, incredible imagination and willpower. The moment you arrive you feel almost intimidated by so much experience concentrated in such a small place. Everything tells you that you actually are in a painting, but your rationality tries to convince you that you are not, you are just in another city.
Perhaps you are in both: you are just in another city that happens to be made of light, shifting colours and everything works according to painting principles.
With this project I wanted to bring the pictorial essence of Venice into photography. I focused on the water reflections through which the city shows its true soul made of light and colours and I tried to combine reality and imagination because in Venice you can never tell if you are awake or you are living in a painting.
I took the pictures in November 2017. I converted to black and white only selected parts of them, then I printed the picture and I painted them using acrylic colours.