Roberta Foglino – 2011
“Anything may have a soul. You just need to find it out.” That’s what Mauro Felici synthetizes in the inscription opening up the photographic publication about the collection PEPPERLIFE in 2004. Piero Leonardi has detected the sense of his research right in those years.
The collection is the hint to start working out the artist’s epstemologic approach to photography.
He finds the “essence” of plain fruits of nature like peppers by means of the pareidoleic reading of the object. He thus reco-gnizes the presence of the soul of things too.
Piero Leonardi’s pioneering perceptive curiosity leads him through continuous researches and in-depth aesthetic-philosphical analysis turning photography into the instrument by means of which the artist searches for dimensions beyond com-mon aspects to overcome the visual impact and penetrate the essence which lies inside, hidden in front of a superficial observation.
In the collection PEPPERLIFE photography is no photocopy of reality at all, but rather it is its shrewd, excited transfiguration.
Elio Pecora – 2004
In the long history of poetry and painting, or in the more recent years of photography, to this day I think no one has ever erected an altar in honour of peppers.
Although in paintings we have often admired their coloured and savoury appearance, we have never admired the composite and vast variety present in the sequence photographed by Piero Leonardi.
We can say that the photographer has entrusted the edible and perishable fruit of the earth to the duration of light, thus making it permanent.
The pepper, never losing its “individuality”, reveals itself far beyond its culinary excellence.
Its shapes liken it and transform it into persons and events.
It immediately stands out among other vegetables: tall, slender, strong, burnished, but also elegant, majestic, it shows and expresses itself as a volatile creature, an actor in the comedy of existence.
This all takes place cheerfully, because this playful research is also a celebration, and while celebrating does not submit nor to emphasis nor to an easy enjoyment.
Thus two halves of peppers become 2 persons looking out of a window, another pepper is a candle, another half pepper is in distress and waves his arms like the desperate Madame Butterfly, other two are entwined like foetuses, and yet another has the wide-open mouth of a cobra, the burning fury of an erupting volcano, the attraction of a female body with powerful hips, and so on.
And this son of the Solanaceous family is not void of historical ancestry either, of ties to the great arts and sciences going back to the Ancient Romans who raped the Sabine women, Munch’s scream, Manzù’s sculptures, Dante’s Caronte, and finally the Big Bang and the God of creation that allows its existence.
In other words, the study of Leonardi is a rightful glorification and a playful invitation to delight in peppers when eating them and when enriching luncheons and dinners.
But it is also a confirmation that life, in its many aspects and innumerable truths, can reveal itself also simply in a vegetable in season.