Nestled in the Italian countryside of Le Marche hides a treasure of art and inspiration. The photographer Lorenzo Cicconi Massi has created a new genre of photography drawing upon the form’s ability to capture objects and shadows.
Inspired by Mario Giacomelli, the great artist of his hometown of Senigallia, Massi continued in the art of black and white, affording his photographs a subtle and timeless surrealism: “Mine is not an imitation, and not even a kind of continuation of work already started,” the artist explains in reference to his inspiration, “My way of playing with these two colours gives the pictures the personal touch that distinguishes me." Experimenting with contrasts, Massi’s images are installed with a liveliness and movement where static objects are seemingly brought to life.
Massi’s vibrant passion for photography was born at a young age whilst attending a workshop with one of his best friends to pass the time. His devotion to the familiar landscapes of Senigallia inspired Massi to take his first picture: "I was lying in the garden, my father's old camera in my hand, and I photographed the leaves hanging from the trees," the artist recalls, emanating his spiritual bond to the ground, and of the silence and meditation that comes from it.
Continually influenced by the land, the sea, the hills; Massi seeks to use his photography to transmit his feelings in relation to individuality, childhood, adolescence and aging. His work tells of the various stages of human existence, through a lens of his own personal, spiritual and emotional experience.
Though cinema direction was his dream - with making movies requiring a more intensive, expensive and challenging type of work - Massi instead chose to create his ideal images through the lens. In his shots, time is stopped, motionless and conveys a feeling of infinity. And yet, the spaces captured are themselves on the move, with the contrast between sharpness and more subtle nuances seeking to enhance the viewer’s imagination.
In his series The Roads to Play (1989-1999), Massi chooses to represent childhood with a sense of vivacity: "The kids pictured live in their own world, nestled between light and shadow. They move like ghosts in my daydreams. I can only follow them from a distance...”
From childhood to adulthood, Path to Nothing (2008), comprises a series of shots containing the principal element of old age, as seen through the photographer’s eyes. Here Massi presents a surreal world, where older bodies are immortalised on the shore, black shadows waiting in silence to reflect the impending end of life’s journey - "bodies and blackened souls flickering reflections on the water, their destination unknown,” the artist describes.
Despite an early waning towards cinematography, in photography Massi has made his mark on an international scale, collaborating with the Contrasto Agency in Milan, having his photographs published in Italian and international publications such as Images and Newsweek and exhibiting his work at Galerie Treffpunkt Stuttgart and at the Stadthaus Ulm to name just a few. His photographs have even gone on to win the Sports Features Singles prize at the World Press Photo 2007, with his series Young Faithful to the Tribe awarded the GRIN during the same year.
And yet, despite gaining such critical acclaim, Massi refuses to rest on his laurels. He surrenders himself into new ideas, always looking for a good way to represent them. Seeking to refine fresh inspiration, the artist carefully observes the world around him; it is always possible to find a light, a form and a line. Far from fixating on photos past, Massi looks to the future, enthusiastically referencing his new works, a series of shots of flying girls, exploring ideas of suspension in flight, and a woman as a cloud, surreal and dreamy.
Words: Giulia Catani
Photography: Lorenzo Cicconi Massi