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29 Arts In Progress : Gabriele Micalizzi : A Kind of Beauty


29 Arts In Progress gallery presents the works of photographer Gabriele Micalizzi, for the first time in Milan. The exhibition, called “A Kind of Beauty”, curated by Tiziana Castelluzzo, brings together the finest photographs, ranging from black and white prints to gelatin silver prints and colour, painstakingly selected from negatives preserved in the artist’s archive.

On display are the most significant shots depicting some of the venues of the biggest clashes of the last two decades, starting from the Arab revolutions, passing through the conflicts in the Middle Eastern against the caliphate through to the current conflicts in the Ukraine and Palestine.

The desire to embark on a journey towards a type of photography resulting from a documentary need, but containing its own aesthetics and meaning that goes beyond the reason for its inception, derives from a precise positioning choice reached throughout the gallery’s many years of experience in making space for new visions and fragments of reality that have marked the history of the last twenty years.

Gabriele Micalizzi was born in Milan in 1984 in Cascina Gobba, which was a complicated neighbourhood in the Nineties. He has always had a strong sensitivity, which he channelled into a strong passion and predisposition for visual arts, first for graffiti and tattoos and later for photography and video making. His first experience of war was at the age of 23, in Afghanistan, followed by a trip to Thailand during the riots created by the Red Shirts in central Bangkok, where he realised his vocation was to be a photojournalist, after taking a shot of a boy injured by a hand                                                                right beside him.

According to Gabriele, the war is like a theatre, a term used in the military environment to define the conflict zone, where everyone has a specific role, in a certain scene and in a limited amount of time. The photojournalist’s task is to illustrate and narrate using a single weapon: the camera, the only available means that becomes a tool of action to share that stage where emotions run high, expand, and are exacerbated, friendships are consolidated or lost, and solidarity becomes a primary and essential need.

By using photography with impeccable skill, Micalizzi is able to create images that are not slaves of reality or intention but instead represent a world of its own with its coherence, autonomy and evocative power.

“Gabriele has an extraordinary ability to synthesize; he manages to combine poetry, power, and beauty in a single shot. His photographs, even the most explicit ones, are a metaphorical expression of a wider, more complex reality that leads the viewer to ask questions about events, mankind and the nature of conflicts. Gabriele not only portrays war, but he experiences it first hand by standing next to the fighters, in the middle of the scene, whilst facing their same risks. His shots portray not only what he sees, but his entire emotional baggage too. Gabriele’s gaze however is never judgemental, but it is free and open, as though it were guided by a need for clarity and understanding of the most intimate and humane aspects of the facts of history.” (Tiziana Castelluzzo)

His works do not oppress the observer nor reduce the image to a spectacle of photographic virtuosity, but instead generate a broad and open terrain of engagement, a space where the image articulates its information and evokes in the viewer multiple meanings that transcend itself. Despite being rich in detail, his photographs are arranged in a precise composition order without ever undermining the complexity of reality.

In a historical moment in time where individuals are submerged by information and influenced by media that shape people’s aesthetic consciousness, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, Gabriele Micalizzi has found a way to report on the war from an invisible perspective, by using his experience to create works of art (photographs) that capture the gaze, the mind, and the soul of the observer.

The exhibition will guide visitors through the unsettling and disturbing gaze of Gabriele Micalizzi, whose shots force the audience to weigh, collect and process the most disparate meanings of every single detail of the photographs presented.

During Milan Art Week, a selection of Gabriele Micalizzi’s works will also be presented as part of the new edition of MIA Photo Fair from 10th to 14th April 2024 at the Allianz MiCo Congress Centre Milan.

In the meantime, “Legacy”, a collection of works and an installation by Micalizzi that aim to reflect on the physicality of photography will be on display at Santa Giulia Museum in Brescia from 23rd April until 1st September 2024.


Gabriele Micalizzi is an Italian photojournalist who collaborates with national and international newspapers such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Internazionale, and The Wall Street Journal.

He is one of the founders of the Cesura collective and his work focuses on analysing and portraying the social condition of people and their relationship with their surroundings.

In 2010, he began the project Italians: The Myth, an ethno-anthropological investigation focused on the identity crisis Italian society is undergoing, and at the same time, he started documenting the development of the Arab Spring, starting in Tunisia and then moving on to Egypt and Libya.

In 2016, he was crowned by Oliviero Toscani and David LaChapelle as the first winner of the Master of photography prize curated by Sky Arte, becoming a Leica testimonial. In 2016, he went to Libya to document the civil war. His book DOGMA was released after this trip.

On February 11, 2019, while he was in Baguz, in south-eastern Syria, documenting the Kurdish advance against IS forces, he was struck by an RPG rocket. Due to the injuries he sustained, he spent time in Milan, in search of new stories to tell. During this period, he worked at what became known as Malamilano, a project that addresses the most problematic issues the city of Milan faces, in particular drug addiction and micro criminality.

During the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy, he documented the area with the highest number of cases, travelling between Bergamo and the rest of Lombardy.

In 2021, he travelled between Iraq and Afghanistan and at the same time began his career in the film industry by collaborating as a still photographer and consultant for the Sky Block 181 TV series filmed in Milan.

In 2022, he covered the war in Ukraine for WSJ, Die Zeit and Le Monde. Part of his coverage was later used for the production of the documentary film That’z War, scheduled to be released soon.


Gabriele Micalizzi : A Kind of Beauty
From April 4th until June 28th, 2024
29 Arts In Progress
Via San Vittore, 13
20123 Milano MI, Italy

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