I recently had the chance to visit a gallery show presenting the work of Italian photographer Franco Fontana (1933 -present), which had me add his book Skyline to my Christmas wish list. While many of the images are of natural landscapes, he includes urban landscapes as well. This wider interpretation of the genre suites my preferences as well as it offers a wider pallet of cultural clues as well as being more reflective of the current experience of many of us; one dominated by life within urban centres with only infrequent sojourns into the shrinking reserve of natural places.
What stands out for me are his abstraction and simplification of space, through reducing detail as well as simplifying the colour pallet, in combination with his use and presentation of shapes, including lines. The book immediately positions the photographer’s view of the importance of space on its first page:
Nella fotografia cerco la dimensione dello spazio; a mio parere è alla base di tutto l’equilibrio della vita, quindi anche di ogni forma artistica.
In photography I look for the dimension of space; in my opinion it is at the base of all the balance of life, therefore also of every artistic form.
Starting from a tangible reality he abstracts by excluding all unnecessary elements. Through his technique he has developed a personal language that unfolds the familiar landscapes and the unknown expanses so that the signs, the space, the shape and the colour become the only elements of the image. The colour treatment is an interesting dimension of his images. To me his approach is reminiscent of the work by Yozo Hamaguchi in his book Color Mezzotints.