Alessio Bolzoni’s Sharp Editorial Eye

At V.O Curations in London, the artist attempts to navigate the overwhelming influx of imagery in contemporary culture

BY Joe Bobowicz in Exhibition Reviews | 01 JUL 24

A fashion photographer by trade, Alessio Bolzoni brings an editorial sensibility to his artistic practice, shooting or cropping found images with the finesse of a seasonal look book. The artist’s current exhibition at V.O Curations, ‘There’s a Fine Line between Love and Hate, You See’, deploys this skill to create a cause for pause amidst contemporary culture’s algorithmic influx of imagery.

Alessio Bolzoni
Alessio Bolzoni, Adrian, 2018, photograph, from the series ‘Abuse’. Courtesy: the artist and V.O Curations

In the series ‘Accumulo’ (Accumulation, 2023), for instance, shots of human legs in motion are paired while faces are kept out of frame. In each diptych, the image on the left is a historical black and white found photograph, while its colourful counterpart on the right is from a 21st-century newspaper. Accumulo #01 offsets the exquisite wrinkle of suit trousers mid-swing and the glossy sheen of a loafer with dark trousers, an ill-fitting jacket and a pigeon bobbing in the corner, half-obscured by a plastic bag. In both images, the subjects’ hands are in their pockets and their gait is identical. 

At its best, Bolzoni’s stylized technique turns something everyday, like the act of walking, into something with the potential for imagined narrative. Accumulo #03 appears to counterpose a figure in nondescript, mid-century, Western workwear with the sodden legs of a refugee as they wade through the sea to reach the safety of shore. Sometimes, these cross-cultural pairings border on gimmicky. Accumulo #02 aligns the striding legs of what seems to be a man in orthodox jewish apparel with that of another in an Islamic thobe, recalling the tone of a 1980s United Colours of Benetton advert.

Alessio Bolzoni
Alessio Bolzoni, Accumulo #01 (detail), 2023, photograph, from the series ‘Accumulo’ (Accumulation). Courtesy: the artist and V.O Curations 

Elsewhere, the series ‘Ebay’ (2023) collages a collection of 1950s American college photos, which the artist bought on the eponymous online marketplace, revealing gestural codes – arms crossed over knees, figures with their backs to the camera – and building accidental stories. The torn edges of these photographs obscure certain compositional elements, rendering ephemeral tidbits – a shadow, the taut hug of someone’s jeans – the punctum of the image. In this way, the artist encourages a dérive viewing experience, where each visual conjunction or disjunction forges a story or an affective response predicated on what emotions a particular assemblage might elicit. The anonymity and hazy provenance of the source photographs reflect the scattergun constellations of imagery that define our media experiences but, crucially, adds the poise that’s often found wanting on AI-chronologized social-media feeds.

Upstairs, ‘Abuse’ (2018) depicts people in contorted positions against a white backdrop. Despite being photographed independently, the subjects – all of whom were given simple instructions to perform for the camera – assumed very similar poses. Here, Bolzoni’s act of editing or curating his imagery comes to life and the lesser details of human anatomy step in as novel fixations. While I wouldn’t go as far as to describe these images, as Bolzoni did to me, as uncanny in the Freudian sense, there is a serene coolness to them that cuts through the noise. 

Alessio Bolzoni
Alessio Bolzoni, from the series ‘Ebay’, 2023, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and V.O Curations

I notice the awkward, human characteristics of the sitters in ‘Abuse’: baby hairs cling to a sweaty forehead while a toe is indented with skin folds from the pressure of the pose (Nassia); fingers press decidedly against the ground, the palm ascending above (Adrian). Elsewhere, splayed, denim-clad legs create a sculptural centrefold while the tapered end of a belt levitates above the white studio floor (Leon). Shown here in a gallery setting, the series – which was plastered on 24 billboards around Milan during the pandemic lockdown in 2020 – highlights even more acutely the fine line between a harmoniously calibrated image and visual excess. By literally or aesthetically collaging bodies in freeze-frames, creating pictorial pressure points therein, Bolzoni achieves more with less.

Alessio Bolzoni’s ‘There’s a Fine Line between Love and Hate, You See’ is on view at V.O Curations, London, until 6 July 

Main image: Alessio Bolzoni, ‘There’s a Fine Line between Love and Hate, You See’, 2024, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and V.O Curations

Joe Bobowicz is a writer and curator working between fine art, fashion and popular culture