Luisa Lambri is known for her delicate studies of architecture. In her first large-scale solo exhibition in Italy, PAC brings together almost two decades of her work. The title Autoritratto references Italian feminist and art writer Carla Lonzi’s book of the same name. In the book, Carla brings together fragments of interviews with artists. Cross-edited and intertwined, the interviewees seem to speak to each other as one creative voice. Brought together in this retrospective, Luisa’s images generate a dialogue between the buildings and artworks she has photographed. It forms a voice that is both her own and synchronised with those spaces.
Since she first began to travel, Luisa Lambri has been fascinated with finding homes in other places. When she discovers a place to which she feels a connection, she begins by spending time there. This passing of time is how we live in buildings. Luisa focuses on the changing light, the views out and the overlooked details. She listens to the space and finds ways to re-enact her experience of it for the viewer. Her images are not about architecture, but they use architecture as a tool.
Through her lens, Luisa takes these spaces created by others and makes them her own. She adds a female perspective to a world often constructed by men. A series of images of the Met Breuer, Untitled (The Met Breuer, #02, #03, #04) (2016), accentuate the changing light through one of the iconic, angular windows. A sliver of what might be the view teases but will not let us see through.
In Untitled (Schindler House, #01) (2007), a muted cluster of leaves tumbles across a bright white rectangle. Bordered heavily on either side by solid black blocks, the image seems to merge Japanese Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) with Mondrian’s grids. The solidity of the building contrasts with the changeable world outside. The size of the work makes the window seem life-size as if we are standing looking out.
More recently, Luisa has turned to some of the minimalist and abstract artists who have influenced her work. The series Untitled (100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminium, 1982-1986, #03, #04) (2012) is her conversation with Donald Judd’s ambitious installation. Taking us inside Donald’s sculptures, Luisa uses her process to invent expansive rooms of light and ethereal colour. With each repetition, there is a sense of the slow passage of time.
Installing her work brings about another dialogue between work and space. For Luisa, it is an important part of the evolution of the work. By bringing her personal spaces together in a building, she opens up new conversations. It will be interesting to see how the exhibition speaks to the light-filled galleries and park views of the Villa Reale at PAC.
By Emma Godfrey Pigott