Gladiatori Moderni by Piero PompiliGladiatori Moderni by Piero Pompili

Gladiatori Moderni

Photographed byPiero Pompili

Hardcover | April 1, 2017

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Bodies, sweat, the direct gaze; strength, courage, doubt; the visual and emotional alphabet of Piero Pompili's work is characterized by intensely striking images. For 15 years, the artist photographed with passion the world of boxing, which he frequented in Rome and Naples, in the gyms of the borgata. In these popular suburbs of Italy's major cities, where Calabrians and Sicilians were crammed in the postwar years, Piero Pompili captured an atmosphere redolent of Pasolini accents. The artist was as fascinated by his subject as with the social and urban landscape in which they lived, as evidenced by other aspects of his work: the working classes of Ostia, Roman-African hairdressers, etc. The source of this fascination was a childhood spent in the Borghesiana (a borgata in Rome), where he was born in 1967. The boxers were part of the landscape, and Pompili developed a deep attachment to these epic heroes who fought every day in his city. Hence a broad vision: through his photographic approach to boxing, Piero Pompili sought not only a formal truth, but also poetic, social and historical. The energy and passion of the common people of Rome had already fascinated Gericault (around the time of his "Course de Chevaux Libres", 1817); Caravaggio, as well, had selected models from the streets of Rome to make of his genre paintings true "tableaux realistes." The photographer's approach is realistic; rather than an excuse to show idealized men locked in a clash of the titans, he shows the modern gladiators as not gods but real men, beings of flesh with their fears and their ambitions. Down-to-earth, they have their doubts as they approach the fight, their rage to express, causing them to accept discipline and sacrifice. "The real boxer should be afraid," says Piero Pompili. Therefore, in order to truly show the intensity and the stakes of their commitment, the artist has chosen to focus not on the time of battle itself, but the moments behind the scenes; from the hard routine of daily workouts to the hours of meditation and rituals before the final climb into the ring, the tension is thick and palpable. Mostly photographed by themselves, the boxers are alone to face the waves of adrenaline and anxiety preceding the fight. One is struck by the eyes, which gaze upon the mirror, defiant and melancholy. The bodies themselves speak: the detail of a bulging vein, the expressive power of a back, a torso, reminiscent of armor ready to go into battle. Scrutinized in their workouts, studious, surprised in solitude, before the battle or in the silence of a deserted locker room, even in the hunted expressions that betray their looks or their bodies, Piero Pompili's gladiators finally deliver a secret paradox: they must win a victory, whether in the ring or in life, that is above all about themselves.

About The Author

Piero Pompili lives and works in Rome, where he was born in 1967. His most recent exhibitions: 1994 Cara Roma (Galleria Fiorentini, Rome) 2000 C'eravemo tutti (Galleria Nuova Pesa, Rome, Galleria Comunale, Bari) Romaperta 2002 (Festival internazionale fotografia, Terme di Diocletian, Rome) 2002 Sotto il cielo di Tor Bella Monaca (Festi...

Details & Specs

Title:Gladiatori ModerniFormat:HardcoverDimensions:128 pages, 11.25 × 10.5 × 0.98 inPublished:April 1, 2017Publisher:Bruno Gmuender GmbHLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:3959852150

ISBN - 13:9783959852159

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ForewordBodies, sweat, and a look in the eye: strength, courage, and doubt. Right away, Piero Pompili's visual and emotional alphabet indicates an ouvre characterized by images of captivating intensity.For fifteen years, the artist has been passionately photographing the world of boxing, frequenting the gyms and practice rings of the borgata in Rome or Naples.In these working-class suburbs of Italy's great cities, where Calabrians and Sicilians have congregated in the post-wars years, Pietro Pompili captures atmosphere which is stamped with the accent of Pasolini. Indeed, the artist is just as fascinated by the urban social landscape that his pictures evoke as by the subject itself, as he has demonstrated elsewhere in his work: the working classes of Ostia, an African hairdresser in Rome, etc. (cf. his Cara Roma exhibition, 1994).His fascination with this milieu stems from a childhood spent in Borghesiana, a borgata of Rome, where he was born in 1967; boxers were part of the scenery there, and Piero Pompili developed a profound attachment to the heroes of the popular epics that were fought out every day on his estate.That gave him a wide vision: Via his photographic approach to boxing, Piero Pompili is searching not just for a formal truth, but for poetic, social, and historic truths, too. The ordinary people of Rome, their energy and their passions, had already inspired Géricault (the work around his Course de chevaux libres, 1817) or longer ago still Caravaggio, who created truly realist genre paintings by selecting his models from the streets.The photographer uses this same realistic approach: His theme, boxing, is not a pretext for portraying idealized men confronting one another in a kind of clash of the titans; the modern gladiators he shows are not gods but men beings of flesh, each with his own fears and ambitions - his doubts at the approach of the combat, his furious desire to survive it, which makes him accept discipline and sacrifice. "A true boxer must be afraid," Piero Pompili reveals.To better portray the intensity and the stakes involved in their engagement, the artist has chosen to take his pictures not of the combat itself, but backstage in the wings from the tough routine of daily training through to the moments of meditation and the last rituals which precede entry into the ring, where the air is thick with tension.Usually photographed in isolation, the boxers are alone as they confront the waves of adrenaline and anxiety during the lead-up to the fight. What is striking is the expression on their faces, which stare at the lens as if it were a mirror, defiant or melancholy, conveying snatches of their existence. The bodies themselves speak, too: the close-up of an arm with the veins outstanding - the expressive power of an arm or a torso, evoking an armor that is ready to be worn.Scrutinized as they train, surprised in solitude before a fight or in the silence of a deserted locker room, tracked right through to the expression that betrays their eyes or their body; in the end, Piero Pompili's gladiators reveal a paradoxical secret: If they are to claim victory, either in the ring or in their lives, the opponent they must defeat is, above all, themselves.