A journey through the Italian provinces

‘Pepi Merisio was born in Caravaggio, in the province of Bergamo, on 11th August 1931. Self-taught, he started to take photographs in 1947. As an increasingly important protagonist of the amateur scene of those years, he was awarded numerous prizes, even at an international level. As a free-lance professional from 1962, he published his reportages in many magazines, including ””Epoca””, ””Paris Match””, ””Look”” and ””Stern””. Throughout his professional activity he has followed and photographed all the trips abroad made by Pope Paul VI. Alongside photo-journalism, he soon started to devote himself to books of photography. The first one, dedicated to his friend, the sculptor Bodini, was published in 1964. Since then, his activity in this sector steadily increased. He has published over 40 books, including “Lazio” (1967) and “Liguria” (1960) commissioned by the Italian Touring Club, “Terra di Bergamo” (1969; The land of Bergamo), a work in three volumes which summarises his approach and should probably be considered as his masterpiece. Merisio has perfected a photographic style which is capable of bringing out the value and meaning of his subjects. Let us take for example the rich sensation of a dimension outside the usual concept of time: a peasant culture is not a fleeting moment, but is a millennial phenomenon, whose rhythms are slow enough to be mistaken for motionlessness. By using photography, which is a technique characterised by the instant, Merisio negates instantaneity, treating it exclusively as a necessary technical step, but without transforming it into an expressive moment. Hardly any of Merisio’s thousands of photographs are snatched from the fleeting moment. The photographer – to restore the most authentic dimension of his world – has the maximum recourse to frontal shots, renouncing the fragment and the sketchy report. His photographs, even those which are necessarily shot in the space of an instant, assume the value of a long-meditated moment. The people in his photographs seem to ””pose””, his lens evokes archetypes, figures which distil a greater meaning. All tense towards restoring the deep meaning of a world, Merisio has little time and no desire for formal research. This does not mean that his shots are casual, but that his composition, always so balanced, appears so practised as to appear natural. It is a kind of construction which is possible only for those who have allowed it to mature over time.’



22 Agosto 1981