The most honest elegance in Gian Paolo Barbieri...

The most honest elegance in Gian Paolo Barbieri’s photographs in Milan

The white walls of the 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery in Milan host the largest retrospective on instant photography by Gian Paolo Barbieri entitled “Polaroid and More” curated by Giovanni Pelloso.
Over 120 unpublished polaroids that trace portraits and figures of iconic and timeless characters related to fashion and the entertainment world, and beyond. The Polaroids exhibited in the gallery in a serial way and inserted in black frames and with white passepartout, make the entire exhibition even more elegant.

Gian Paolo Barbieri who has always collaborated with major brands such as Valentino, Versace, Ferrè and many others, brings us into a scenario linked to theatricality and beauty, where everything fluctuates between reality and fiction.
What we read in his photographs is certainly an intimate and light story, and this can be seen not only through the representation of female bodies, but also through male figures and natural subjects; although everything is staged, it is fashion, it is theater, it is a show and although all this may seem almost an exhibition of the subject, in reality the photographer wants to tell us a totally personal, romantic and intimate vision.

The polaroid Neorealism of 2000, recounts love and intolerance for the lack of bourgeois conventions, essential features of neorealism itself; while the portraits of Daniela Ghione, Felicitas Boch, Lynne Koester, Monica Bellucci and Patty Pravo, which he shot throughout his career, give the exhibition an elegance that has no boundaries, where beauty and femininity are ingredients donated to visitors with irremediable and disturbing visual and emotional impact.

We pause on two Polaroids from the respective titles Hoshi Kabuto Mask and Kabuto, from 2005, where in both are represented two men, in the first one a man in profile, in the second a man of 3/4 with a frontal face; both subjects wear a Kabuto, a typical Japanese medieval helmet, usually made of leather and iron; these helmets were often decorated with natural or sacred elements, such as dragons, animals or fruit. This object (the helmet) unites two fundamental elements of the photography of Gian Paolo Barbieri: the “refinement”, in this case identified through the decorative details, and the “strength”, in this case represented by the well-sculpted male body wearing the helmet itself.

In works such as Magnolia and Banana from 2003, nature has an indissoluble bond with the female figure, here eroticism is the key to interpretation.
The figure of the woman, like that of man and nature, has not been taken as a stereotype, but wrapped in a single conviction, the one that is never completely revealed.

In the Polaroid Veruschka for Vivienne Westwood (1997), the female figure is seated in a captivating pose and this is evident from the look but also from the clothes and objects that surround her, such as stockings, shoes and a circle (hula hoop) from the spotted texture, but also with an ironic hairstyle; all these elements contain the characteristics of the photographer’s retrospective: femininity, eroticism, irony, sarcasm, balance, vulnerability, strength and timidity.

Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to photographs taken in which the subjects are natives immersed in their natural habitat, naked bodies often thought of as preparatory works; unlike studio shots (posed and studied), these instead are characterized by their spontaneity and improvisation.
Barbieri also showed off new works inspired by William Shakespeare in the fourth centenary of his death, and how he always liked to think:
“… I draw from the past to look to the future.”


Gian Paolo Barbieri
29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery – Via San Vittore 13, Milano
10 May – 27 July 2019
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11.00-19.00
Other days and times by appointment
Free entry

tel. 02 94387188

© Gian Paolo Barbieri – Daniela Ghione, Interview Mag. Milano, 1986
Polaroid Type 55 Positive, unique piece Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery

© Gian Paolo Barbieri – Banana, Seychelles, 2003
Polaroid Type 55 Positive, unique piece Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery



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