Flares are in again in California it seems. Or more accurately, smoke grenades. Italian photographer Filippo Minelli has been letting rip with the colour spewing cannisters across the West Coast in the making of his ongoing series Silence/Shapes, in which he depicts a calm, often rural landscape suddenly and starkly beset by an incongruous invader seemingly spoiling for trouble.
On a purely aesthetic level, Minelli’s images succeed purely in their use of contrast and the care of their composition, with location, light and colour cleverly considered. However the series, which began in 2009, works on more subtle levels too. The stillness of the landscapes seems violently shattered by the intruding grenade, although the smoke in itself is harmless. Further associations of the devices with crowds, noise, urban protest, and even physical violence gives the scenes added impact. The sense of energy in the photographs is all the more powerful given the absence of people in them; there is an eerie abandonment to Minelli’s work. The Silence/Shapes series is being shown under the exhibition title Nothing to Say at 886 Geary Gallery, San Francisco, until 7 February.