Introduction to Marco Barbieri’s Work

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Today we start another week of SnappedAway In-Depth Series. This time I am very pleased to present photography work of Marco Barbieri. And as before this short piece, an introduction to his workwill initiate a series of this week’s posts: first an interview, then an opportunity to showcase two projects and finally a selection of one photo picked from the images published during the whole week, which will be later printed on a t-shirt.

Marco Barbieri is a half Italian half Czech photographer living and working mainly in London, however when you check his website you will also find some of his projects were shot in Asia and Middle East. There is a common theme running in all his photographs that is a psychological relationship between people and their environment and the influence that goes both ways. He applies the same principle when looking at inanimate objects.

His images are always precisely composed. He often places a subject of interest in the centre of a frame and surrounds it with its environment to give it the necessary context. This approach creates very static images where even time seems to stand still.

This image comes from Marco’s Contextless series. There is something captivating in this men sitting on the brick wall. His feet are not touching the ground and there is that strange feeling that he is almost levitating in the space. The brownish brick wall he is sitting on melts with the building in the background. The men himself is also dressed in shades of browns and greys and he looks as though he is almost a part of the building like a gargoyle on a Gothic cathedral watching over the space.

This correlation between people and their immediate surrounding is so well highlighted in this image from Tokyo: Static project.

I really like the subtle, gentle and muted colour palette here and the blend of the gentleman’s clothing colours with the surrounding. He is sitting very patiently and peacefully in a space that is also motionless with closed shutters, and traffic barriers. The only thing that seems to be moving is the light.

In his older works which still appeals to me and to many other people, Marco was using light and shadow as a way to flow the narrative of the image.

This photograph comes from his Lights and Lines series, which was highly popular when it was published. As he writes about this project himself he was using large surfaces of darkness and slivers or patches of light in order to ‘portrait humanity as being lost or overwhelmed by the urban environment. Darkness is my medium to achieve this effect. Light is solely used to concentrate on details.’ The red balloon pops out straight away. Only later you start to discover more details, like a beautifully lit string or the pink balloon. You can barely see people, their figures guided by light disappear into the shadow.

The motive of the balloons is often reappearing in Marco’s work.

Here, in the image from Our Drinking Habits he finds the balloons tide to the handrail in this empty, concrete space. Their soft and playful bodies are in a sharp contrast with the surrounding. Only later you discover some bottles and cans tucked in the corner, the memory of some last night’s events that the balloons must have been a part of. Now in full sunlight they still radiate emotions onto the cold concrete around them.

This interplay between people, objects and urban space is something that attracts me to his work repeatedly. Just look at this single blooming tree with the backdrop of the council estate. Simplicity with a touch of poetry.

If you enjoyed reading this post stay with us for more of Marco Barbieri’s photography. Tomorrow on a Day 2 of SnappedAway In-Depth Series I will be talking to him about his work and life in London and how he got into photography. Also you might want to check his website to find out more about his work.

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