Ancient Presences

Limited edition photographs Fine Art print

One day Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, was blowing without a care in the world when he chanced upon the nymph Chloris and immediately fell in love with her: as a wedding gift he offered her the seeds that she generously lavished on humans so they could use them to grow the plants that from then on have sported the nymph’s green and are swept by the god’s breath. The careful observation of a tree without paying attention to the passing of time – and doing this simply for the pleasure it gives us – means inevitably that the mechanism of imagination that inspired our ancestors in the past is triggered in our minds. The way the roots are firmly anchored to the ground, the distorted but powerful presence of the trunk and the continuous rustling of the leaves are just some of the aspects of this enchanting spectacle. This is what Lia Stein has done: even before focusing her lens on the olive trees in front of her, she wants to cast her gaze lightly yet inquisitively over the entire surface of the trees until she almost reaches a sort of hypnotic state. It is only then that the subjects are revealed above and beyond their real appearance, disclosing their inner nature hidden from those unable to see it. And, faced with this revelation, the photographer has used her camera to capture remarkably expressive images of what she was finally able to observe: it is if the twisted wood of the trunks represented two parallel phenomena – the twitching of a muscle and the trembling of a body. What is most striking about these photographs is their capacity to allude and narrate, prompting us to imagine a world that is both beautiful and mysterious. One has a desire to place one’s hand on the bark so as to feel it shuddering ever so slightly, to listen to the rustling of the leaves, with their characteristic rippling motion that is poetically described as a ‘silver sea’, and to observe the almost imperceptible vivacity animating the earth from which the gnarled roots emerge. Rather than trying to depict the olives, Stein wishes to show us how to appreciate their truly authentic spirit. And it is laudable that this ecstatic approach can take place through photography.

Roberto Mutti

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