Due to the homogeneous painted backgrounds, the geometric organisation of surfaces overturned on the frontal plane, the partial reduction of complex architectural structures influenced by the logic of formal composition, Piero Mollica’s photography recalls that of the early 20th century, when the recently invented technique was on the point of passing from Naturalism to the languages of Modernist painting, which was indeed more cutting-edge. For instance, Paul Strand’s photos offer, at the same time, the optical archetype and the hereditary gene for his abstract visions.
In Mollica’s photos, the linear rhythm is crystal-clear, the light very rarely comes from the outside; in fact, it blends with the buildings’ matter and with colour. Irradiation spreads at the utmost chromatic intensity in tense surfaces, that is to say, he melts them in a glassy and mirror-like liquid.
Although the aesthetic captivation immediately overwhelms the observer’s sensitivity, it is a secondary aspect of the work. Every architectural structure is generated, first of all, with the purpose of sheltering human beings, giving them the opportunity to inhabit a space which is proportioned to their psychic and physical dimensions. Many of Mollica’s shots shed light on the connection between the subject and the building of the inhabitable space, exposing a relationship which clashes with its own humanistic basis. Thus, humans are not the purpose of every project; on the contrary, they are almost annihilated, absent, or microscopic, swallowed or degraded by the Olympus of new technologies.
Sensitive beauty thus reveals the inhospitality of places which have become increasingly virtual, where the human presence is reduced to being a digital addition, just like in the 3D renderings of projects which can be found at the entrance of urban building sites. As a result of the loss of humanistic proportions, architecture starts embodying a new idea of the Sublime. According to Kant, the Sublime was a sense of bewilderment caused by the magnitude and power of nature. However, the upheaval can be exorcised by the awareness of the higher morality and reason which are essentially human. The increasingly titanic dimensions of architectural works, the curves and volumes which are dissected and folded up, make humans feel excluded; after being pushed back, they look at themselves in the mirror of their absence. The artificial space which has replaced nature is, in fact, the product of their intellectual abilities, the objectification of their own reason. Therefore, the only way to redeem the architectural sublime seems to be represented by the daily heroism of those who contemplate, penetrate and walk through it.