Expect the unexpected

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” said the uncompromisingly wise, Atticus Finch, in Harper Lee’s to Kill a Mockingbird. Well, there are few finer ways to see the world from someone else’s perspective than through the art of photography, particularly when that photography is as atmospheric as that of Giacomo Brunelli.

In his latest exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, the Italian-born Brunelli showcases his Eternal London collection in which he captures an element of serendipity. In part this is achieved by taking the majority of pictures on daily walks through the city rather than setting up a composition: “I have been forcing myself to react to surprises by pressing the button … the situation in which the photograph happens is more important than anything else.”

That is not to say that there isn’t a great deal of thought that has gone into these rather ethereal images. Certainly there is an element of uneasy romance, and at times humor or even pathos about the moments that he captures. In terms of artistic integrity however, it is evident that alongside the fortuitous circumstances of spotting something interesting and catching it in an instant (where most of us would be too enraptured or slow to actually press click), there is a well considered process from the choice of subject matter and the use of black and white rather than colour, all the way through to the printing of the images, “The freedom I use in the shooting process reflects the routine I have to stick to in terms of personal choices … I find black and white elegant, raw, mysterious … I owe a lot to black and white.  Colour is a stranger to me.” The dreamlike quality in many of the images is also entirely intentional, “In a dream, I never remember faces but what stays with me is a just a certain feeling. I was after that feeling when framing Big Ben or St. Paul’s.”

A relative newcomer to the photography scene, it is fitting that his degree was in fact in International Communications, because what is evident in his pictures is an unspoken dialogue between the individual, Brunelli, and the location. Not that the conversation is always an easy one – as he himself says: “I like to create a tension between me and my subjects; the more they feel my presence, the more vulnerable they become.”

Ultimately, Brunelli explains, “shooting Eternal London has been great fun [and] I hope that fun shines through the show.” For what it’s worth, my own thought is that ‘fun’ is probably not the first word that would come to mind when looking at his images. I don’t think it really does them justice. However, in amongst the array of emotions that spill out of his lens, there is certainly a sense of fascination that would make any viewer smile. Particularly in this case, a viewer who has a place in their heart for the diversity and eccentricities of London.

by Bonnie Friend

Eternal London is at The Photographers’ Gallery, London until April 27


Exhibition runs to 27th April 2014, at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW