trophy and treasure

Francesco Neri

2009 - 2016


Text by Gerry Badger, London, 2016

Francesco Neri makes colour photographs utilising an 8x10 view camera, which gives his work the sober and contemplative character of 19th century work. As he draws his subject matter from near at hand, photographing family, friends and neighbours, his work might be said to be an updating of the 19th century photographic album although it is entirely contemporary in aspect, a careful blending of the objective with the subjective, of the documentary with the so-called ‘diaristic’ mode.

This is exemplified in his Trophy and Treasure book project, which is at once a document of an important aspect of country life in Italy and a memoir of his father. So although it clearly contains meanings that are private to the photographer and his family, the quality of the imagery, and his depiction of what he terms the ‘arcane social environment’ to which his father became addicted after retirement, has enough interest to draw in the general reader. Indeed, by drawing comparisons with hunting and his father’s medical career, two closed and specialist worlds are drawn together, although hunting clearly has primacy in this particular body of work.

Trophy and Treasure is also a landscape book, a beautiful depiction not simply of the natural world, but the often strange and fraught relationship that the natural world has with mankind. This is a most distinctive work, thoughtful and beguiling, drawing the viewer in slowly, but powerfully. And not the least of its virtues is the finely controlled, muted colour palette employed by the photographer.

(forthcoming publication in 2016: "Trophy and Treasure", co-published by SNOECK / SK Stiftung Kultur Museum, Koln)

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