The Ancient Romans Portfolio

Review of the exhibition on Giornale di Sicilia Online by Agata Polizzi, Palermo, 2010

Sergio Zavattieri shows his nine shots in the exhibition at Zelle Arte Contemporanea Gallery.  The shots reproduce the classical art works of the Flavio age with great realism or hieratic.

Sergio Zavattieri’s Ancient Romans is an interesting image consideration with its value and its  reproducibility themes. He uses a little pictures gallery – nine – reproducing by photographs the classical roman art works of the Flavio’s age with great realism or hieratic. The pictures were taken at the Museum of Roman Civilization by Zavattieri in the 2000 and were edited and printed in 2009 through a simulating process of the original tones of the cyanotype printing introduced in 1842 by the English scientist and astronomer John Herschel in 1842.
It is a mix of classical and contemporary art where the portraiture is used in order to show the sense evolutions and the image value, the human expression and, maybe, even the memory of the image.
Zavattieri makes a contrast to the stereotypes of total style and faces standardization, from fashion to ads, to plastic surgery stopped and inexpressive truth where all and all the people are beautiful artificially. With evoking ancient faces, he shows dramatically how the image obsession is flown during the time, apparently without any loss of power. The commemorative art in Roman age of the power or the gens is nowadays the symbol of social status proof or witness of the eternal youth jitters of starlets and more.
The media panorama gives a lot of examples to prove phenomenally the “depersonalizing” practice through the reproducibility and the re-made where the pass of time, the sign of the life, the old things, the memory are in a second plane or even deleted. Federico Lupo at the Zelle Arte Contemporanea Gallery explains the themes of the flattening features, the personality loss and flaw reset. He says: “The whole of his work is dedicated to the man itch of reproducing all the image types creating a gap between reality and its representation constantly.” Nowadays all is reproducible and artificial. Here is where we find a few fascinations with references to genetic, molecular engineer, passing through the moral. They are below those, and they could not explained in a few lines.
But the nine shots force to the comparison and to a sort of strange thoughts. Our society is always constrained to strange thoughts or action scenes. Guillaume Von Holden, the curator of the exhibition, says: “The realistic portrait, whom development is completed just in the Roman edge, changes the spirituality. It refuses the fundamental canons of Greek art up to half of V century, when the individual feature expression did not have the right of artistic citizenship. The will, rather than capability, to attribute a great featuring portraits goes through a process. This goes from the deformed, from all apotropaic mask’s grotesque and abnormal features, it arrives to the individual. A good point to damage the stylistic unity.
Since than there was a logic and unique language need, but now it changes from live to a mere traditional iconographic element. It is a “fixed locution” to be used like some architectonic decoration schemes and without its origin memory. This is an improbable gap between the abstractness of the impersonal naked body and the head physiognomic realism. The man need to remember and to make remember joins the time violence in a multiplication play of representation with the identification and biographic datum. So that it becomes a pure and compulsive love for “postcard pictures” folding that are able to change the story.
Zavattieri rebuilds this story through camouflaging documents that, in an absolutely failing way, transform the time in a very pure abstraction.”
A contemporary wunderkammer in which the iconographic root of Zavattieri’s works appears always marked by himself. However it is taken from the conceptual twisting between the clear image of what we see and the complexity of the meaning weft emerging from a deep reading of the image.