Naoki Ishikawa and the “36 Views” of the Orobie Mo...

Naoki Ishikawa and the “36 Views” of the Orobie Mountains

Until September 3rd the Alps are offered through the lens of the Japanese photographer Naoki Ishikawa at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo. The exhibition “Vette di Luce” (Peaks of Light), curated by Filippo Maggia and Maria Cristina Rodeschini, pays homage to the splendid landscape of the Orobie Alps through two diachronically distinct projects: the late 19th-century landscape painters, whose works come from the museum collection and from CAI Association (Club Alpino Italiano), and the outcome of an artist residency by the Japanese photographer Naoki Ishikawa, who documented the ancestral relationship with the Bergamo peaks throughout 2023. Two projects that elegantly observe the compelling attraction towards the towering peaks that artists from two different cultures reveal in their works with clear distinct perspectives.

Naoki Ishikawa, Alpi Orobie, 2022. Digital print. Courtesy the artist and Accademia Carrara

The show starts with a selection of 35 works by Italian Lombard artists active between the 19th and the early 20th century, renowned for their high-altitude landscapes. Enormous canvases and small series of oils immortalize places that are now unrecognizable. Artists from Bergamo, such as Costantino Rosa (1803-1878), Andrea Marenzi (1823-1891) or Ermenegildo Agazzi (1866-1945) documented the historical and cultural beauty of the Alps, becoming acclaimed painters of the area also for this reason. Spanning from the late Romantic vision to more individualistic forms of expression, the exhibition traces the interest of the time towards unspoilt landscapes. The visit takes off when the space appears as filled with triptychs, diptychs, or large-scale photographs by Naoki Ishikawa, Japanese photographer and alpinist, known for his adventurous spirit, having already climbed and photographed 11 out of the 14 peaks that are over 8.000 meters present on the planet. Beyond the perilous nature of his endeavors, his pieces are celebrated for the ability to grasp the aesthetics of the remote and untouched nature.

Naoki Ishikawa, Sentieri verso il Monte Madonnino, Alpi Orobie, 2022. Digital print. Courtesy the artist and Accademia Carrara

Born in 1977 and passionate about photography, Ishikawa has become one of the prominent landscape photographers worldwide. His works address the themes of climate change and its impact on the less populated areas of the globe. The desire for discovery and documentation leads him to organize and undertake ambitious expeditions in order to capture landscapes untouched by the human, such as Arctic and Greenland. Ishikawa’s exceptional mastery is also evident in these unpublished works, offering a new way of observing the Orobie Mountains, even for those who may perceive them as ordinary and unremarkable. Through the camera, they do not appear as a secretive and menacing force of nature’s power, nor are they the favored realm of monsters and demons from popular culture. Instead, the artist highlights its shapes, the games of lights, the imperceptible movements that pervade the perpetual transformation of a dynamic landscape. In his shots, the artist captures the instant essence of existence.

Naoki Ishikawa, Sentieri della Presolana, Alpi Orobie, 2022. Digital print. Courtesy the artist and Accademia Carrara

The triptychs and diptychs exude the essence of contemporary Japanese shields, where partially hidden fir trees slowly emerge from a dense fog, creating evocative spaces of harmony and tranquility. The photographs, on the other hand, evoke the famous ukiyo-e “views”, appreciated worldwide thanks to masters like Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). As well as then, the traveling artist manages to extol the life and solitude of these spaces. Amid forests, trails and small mountain business, the eternal forms of nature and the myriad four seasonal aspects are evoked. In some pieces, groups of hikers rest by a small mountain lake in the distance. In others, the rarefied air and the dawn light settle on the rocky slopes of the Presolana mountain. Some others allow to envision the morning breeze or the immersive atmosphere of the final hours of daylight.

Naoki Ishikawa, Sentieri verso la Presolana, Alpi Orobie, 2022. Digital print. Courtesy the artist and Accademia Carrara

All these works manifest attention to detail, a constant quest to grasp the soul of any mountain in its purest form, thus they offer a completely new way of considering the Italian peaks.

Sara Bortoletto


Naoki Ishikawa, Vette di Luce
curated. by Filippo Maggia and Maria Cristina Rodeschini
23/06/2023 – 03/09/2023
Accademia Carrara
Piazza Giacomo Carrara 82, 24124 Bergamo


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