Exhibitions, Landscape

Massimo Vitali’s beach scenes return to London: “Sexual innuendo and rigid conformism”

Image © Massimo Vitali, courtesy Ronchini Gallery

Massimo Vitali’s iconic beach scenes are to have their first UK solo exhibition in five years at London's Ronchini Gallery, to coincide with Photo London.

Massimo Vitali’s Beach Series – large-scale photographs of busy, crowded beach-scapes near his home in Lucca, Italy – are often captured from a distance “to convey the voyeuristic possibilities of photography.”

Originally a photojournalist before taking a more conceptual approach with his work, Vitali began the series in 1995, inspired by “drastic political changes in Italy” that “sparked a curiosity to observe his fellow Italians.”

This exhibition showcases later works from Vitali’s ongoing work on the subject, the images taken from 2011 to 2014.

Born in 1944, in Como, Italy, Vitali studied Photography at the London College of Printing in 1964 before going on to work as a photojournalist on commission, and as a cinematographer in both advertising and fiction films. In 1993 he started working with large format photography.

Vitali revealed “the inner conditions and disturbances of normality: its cosmetic fakery, sexual innuendo, commodified leisure, deluded sense of affluence, and rigid conformism”, says art historian Whitney Davis.

Vitali expanded the series to photograph pools, ski resorts, discotheques and tourist sites around the world, exploring “the detached nature of human activities and urban life.”

The exhibition also includes a 2012 work shot in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão state, north-eastern Brazil, the photograph depicts sweeping sand dunes, with no hint of human life discernible; a stark contrast to the well-populated landscapes the artist is more widely recognised for.

“The panoramas capture unguarded social interaction from a vantage point, inviting the viewer to place themselves within the extraordinarily detailed images,”  London’s Ronchini Gallery said in a statement.

Vitali’s work is exhibited in museums including: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Museo Luigi Pecci, Prato and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver.

Photo London takes place at Somerset House from 19-22 May 2016. More details on the exhibition can be found here.