Roberta Foglino – 2011
In 2006 Piero Leonardi carriers on with the research of the soul of things and the Roman countryside he sets some poppies free from their stem and … makes them fly. The collection entitled BUTTERFLOWERS starts like this.
Here the artist’s snapshots transfigure what he sees and unchain the poppies’ soul. When they are anchored down to the earth, they spend their life by watching the sky, outstretching towards a desire o infinite and freedom.
The photographer’s, conscious imagination along with the transfiguration of the artist’s perception could have turned the flower from a delicate and graceful poppy into a flowered butterfly.
When a puff of wind shook its petals then the poppy became a butterfly. The flower was alive; it had its own personality made of a soul and of desires, having a story to tell: that flower did want to fly.
So far BUTTERFLOWERS has been the collection whose result comes out of a post production work. The artist shoots the pop-pies one by one searching for a link between one snapshot and the other. This way, he can set up a “dialogue” among the flo wers, fulfilled by means of the sequences depicting their flight.
Francsca Vergari – 2008
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” Lao-tzu
Butterflies born from the vermilion petals of poppies, which scattered among fields of wheat, rye, barley, teasel, hemlock, wild chicory and celery set the summer on fire with their bright red colours.
With their sleepily reclined petals, disclosed in a beat of wings, they become Lycaenidae, Lycaena phlaeas, Vanessa Cardui or Nymphalinae, blue or fire-red butterflies, in a game of charades that synthesizes the symbols of summer in a photograph.
Only when walking in meadows and in green areas can one appreciate their beauty when, at our passage, they take flight showing the colours and crimson nuances of their wings.
The creative ability of Leonardi has been to link the flight of a butterfly to the petals of a poppy flower, the intangible fluttering of lepidopterans to the purple heads of the Flanders Poppy, in photographs in which the strong contrasting colours embrace each other, flooding the eyes of the careful observer with the heat of the summer sun.
Just like a chrysalis, the sparkling genius of Leonardi unfolds to fly light and free on the diaphanous wings of an unconventional and unconfined imagination, to be cradled by the delicate perfections of its creative instinct.
He has been able to narrate his summer in a beat of wings, a summer made up of solitary walks in the hills that surround the Roman countryside in the silence of a landscape interrupted only by the capfuls of the westerly breeze.
As part of a personal artistic journey this research can be explained at the light of a talented and histrionic prolific streak which has brought Leonardi, in the last few decades, to revisit natural elements, ordinary objects, reconsidering them under different guises, re-evaluating their spirituality, their essence and their right to expression.
This is yet another experiment to give voice to objects that by nature have none, charging them of hyper-substantial meanings and values.
The study on the soul of things, in fact, continues after Pepper life with the Butterflowers Collection: “I tried to put myself in the shoes of a poppy that maybe is unhappy to be always looking only up at the sky. So I chose to give it wings”. A collection of pictures which united in the show, render it a comprehensive work of art that can be modified and revisited, because perfection belongs to a single moment and is as variable as the inspiration that created it.Red and blue contrasting spots: a chromatic dualism which can be considered an emotional dualism. Leonardi’s red, in fact, expresses his attempt to mitigate the aggressiveness implicit in the language of colour by transforming the poppies in soave butterflies flying in the unlimited empyrean. In contrast, blue is the expression of creativity, the ability to let the imagination wander without limits, the freedom of mind to shake off the prejudices and cages of the mind which often condition us.And it is this contrast that reveals the intent of the study on the soul of things: to be able to find the breath of life, the hidden voice, in an ordinary object, like a lament that needs listening to. An act of revelation that, as the word itself says, is a new hiding (re-velation) to the eyes of a foolish observer, who is incapable of becoming part of the creative spirit. But behind the desire to give voice to inanimate objects or to beings that have none, Leonardi reveals his cult for “beauty”, the typical research of an artist to satisfy aesthetics even if this means making a sacrifice, in a yearning towards the contemplation of a final work that must remain immortal, none the less. Symbolically discovered among the petals of a poppy, the photographer’s “butterfly”, can be identified with this research process, the result of the transformation of the pupa in a marvellous winged creature: a cocoon closed in the anti-chamber of perfection for weeks, which then reveals itself to the world by blooming miraculously, even if only for a few days. The sacrifice of beauty contemplates this as well, a testimony of the fact that the research of an honest artist can only be a gift.