Luca Abbadati is an Italian architect and photographer from the town of Leno, in the province of Brescia between Milan and Verona. Abbadati began taking photographs to support his education in architecture. Accordingly, some of his most beautiful shots can be found in his series titled Await, although the landscapes of Iceland (among others) preclude any possibility of pigeon-holing. Since early 2017 Abbadati has exhibited his work up and down the peninsula. One of his more recent projects undertakes a fully-realized and well-executed concept, involving a return to a significant site of his formative years.
While his parents worked, Luca would spend his afternoons after school in his grandparents’ house. His paternal grandfather, a stonemason, built the house. It is no grand affair. A square foundation supports two levels. Of these, Luca was not allowed in the upper level, the mezzanine. That floor held the nice bedrooms and the nice kitchen and the nice living room, just in case an uninvited but honoured guest should stop by. Instead, Luca played and worked just below ground, in a basement shrouded by lace drapes over ceiling-height windows.
Luca returned to the home with the intent of recapturing the vantage point of his childhood. He did so by bringing the camera down to a height of 115 centimeters (hence the name of the work: 115).
Luca’s experiment is a very interesting. The low vantage point lets us contemplate the rooms more fully. By looking head-on at near-right angles at the objects in frame, our perspective of the room becomes more objective, in the sense of being reflective of reality. Angles are less oblique, and like switching from a map to a globe, relative sizes become more accurate. The polisher that Luca’s grandmother would use every afternoon to buff her nigh-untouched marble floors peeks out from the dark side of a door behind which it would otherwise be hidden.
Some of Luca’s perspectives are unique to his family experience. Others, like the layout of a powder room, are more universally appealing. Regardless, one side-effect of the perspective is it tricks the reader into feeling some sense of attachment to the site; how else could we be seeing through the eyes of a child?
“The purpose of my work is not to explain the reality of things. Reality serves as a starting point to say more. I always try to fix a moving moment. I photograph a moment that leads to an event that will happen shortly. A situation that tends to change in the immediate future.”
Luca describes his work as being “concerned with the geometric relationships between things and with the proportions between natural and constructed elements.” His reckoning with age and perspective in a building constructed by a member of his own family neatly furthers these broad artistic goals.
The perspective shift is like that when you move to a part of a room that you had never been to before, like behind the bar at a coffee shop you frequent, or (who’s kidding?) to get something from the closet of your grandparent’s bedroom. Everything about your perception focuses like the hand of God is fiddling with the fine-focus dial of your vision. You become hyper-aware of how you don’t fit into the space around you; paradoxically, from that moment forward you are permanently more comfortable in that space. It is a visceral and immediate departure from and expansion of your comfort zone.
Through the eyes of a child, focused equally on the mundane and the novel, Abbadati’s subjects are largely skated over by those with more experience. These are the objects that populate the periphery of our gaze, that give form to our world and define its shape.
Luca’s vision is amplified by his ability to capture the warm mid-afternoon glow of a room lit, but shaded. The entire house is frozen in time after lunch on an overcast day, when it is not quite late enough to turn on a lamp, and scenes are charged with a moody emotional energy. Light is diffused exactly. Some, like the den, are inviting to the point of being too nice (as is very much the intention of the decorators) while others, like the office (surely unused) are gloomy, and the everyday dining table (the epicenter of family life) is perfectly neutral. These qualities, of course, are encouraged as a gentle designation of use.