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Forte di Bard : Percorsi••• by Silvano Ruffini


Our collaborator Thierry Maindrault is also a photographer and exhibition curator.
Until January 21, 2024, he presents a retrospective of Silvano Ruffini in the exceptional site of Forte di Bard in the Aosta Valley, a spectacular castle which has become one of the main centers for photography in Italy.
Here is his text and his choice of images.

I am invite you to an exhibition in the exceptional site of Forte di Bard in the Aosta Valley, an autonomous region in the Italian Alps. I am curating it at the request of my friend, talented creative photographer, Silvano Ruffini. I’ll let you see some his works from his collections. I strongly encourage you to visit this spectacular castle, which has become one of the main centers for photography in Italy.



This exhibition is the first to bring together, in the same place, different collections by Silvano Ruffini. Some of these collections have already been the subject of several presentations to the public through festivals, group exhibitions or personal/ presentations. Some of these collections are only partialy presented here, such as “Natalino”, “Valle dell’Omo” and “la mia galleria di ritratti”. The two other sets selected, “Color of Air” and “American Dream” are an ‘exclusive premiere’ for the Forte di Bard.

The choice of these five collections, among all the others, was dictated by the idea of letting you discover different stages in this photographic journey. It’s a sort of mini-retrospective. The author shows this heterogeneity of recognizable and essential talent among true creative photographers. Thus, this route offers you some touches of Silvano’s vast palette, between color and black and white, between countryside and city, between stillness and action.


Silvano Ruffini is a very special character in the world of photography. He is very keen on football, photography, and travelling. Logically, this hyperactive man, with his never ending curiosity, has been seeking since he was young to immortalize all of his discoveries. His very busy professional activities, his other passions and his lack of knowledge of “artistic” circles have long prevented him from showcasing his photographic creations. It was only since the new millennium that his works were noticed, and then highlighted in international exhibitions and in various publications. Naturally very reserved and in permanent doubt about the development of his work, he has joined the international collective of creators, Optim’Art. He will remain the relevant witness who will fix the invisible in a subject that will remain banal for the eyes of the majority affected by blindness.

Silvano is one of the photographers of oblivion and of the forgotten; he gives us the opportunity to see once again what was in front of us, before its definitive disappearance. He will resurrect our imagination with the content of his images.

“Color of Air”

This is the first time that this collection, produced in 2017, is presented to the public. This is the second time that Silvano Ruffini presents his research and work on color. The first time was for his work, on the symbiosis between color and movement, with “Sforzi dell’Arte” 11 exhibited in Avignon in 2012, then in Carpentras in 2015, currently in Ormesson [near Paris]. This time, all the shots for his second color collection were taken during one event. The magical world of hot air balloons with their profusion of colorful shapes. During the preparation of the flights, a color saturation was set, due to the purity of the air rich in ultraviolet. The play of colors guarantees compositions that invade us, voluntarily abandoning human presences to solitudes fast in the images. A wise use of light makes it the undisputed protagonist of the construction and composition of photographs that can therefore offer their different levels of interpretation to all audiences, even the most heterogeneous ones. The hypnotic effect is guaranteed.

“American Dream”

How can two sets of totaly opposing images challenge us with such force? Everything is in contrast in the two series of this collection on the United States of America. One is from a Western state; the others are from New York on the East Coast. If everything is part of the category of the so-called street photographs, on the one hand the subject deals with human beings, while on the other hand the models are architectural. On a photographic level, on the one hand the photographic set is treated with rigor in black and white, the other is the subject of a chromatic treatment with subtly dosed applications.

Silvano’s photographs are moving for the formidable beauty expressed and for the emotions they arouse in us. The expression of the material and psychological misery of the homeless, in one of the economically rich regions of the planet, raises questions for us. The second series seems premonitory, with the morgue and the arrogance of gigantic buildings anchored in New York, under dark and distressing skies. After contemplating and comparing these powerful images, questions arise about this American dream which, nevertheless, makes most of the inhabitants of our planet fantasize.

“la mia galleria di ritratti”

Almost all creators, with some recognition, owe this recognition to one or more cult collections. If we mention Silvano Ruffini, it is undoubtedly about his portraits, very often stolen without the knowledge of the subjects photographed. All characters, with an appearance far from the criteria of beauty (objectively unverifiable), that he enhances with his rigorous photographic treatments.

It is, in fact, through a series of photographic procedures he has devised that he obtains works of great beauty from these atypical faces. This creator perpetuates, with humor, but without ever falling into ridicule or disrespect, the characters collected during all of his travels. The use of black and white simplifies the initial reading, with choices of strong contrasts that border on engraving. The color series, from this same collection, are photographed in the same conditions; but they offer us a more documentary aspect in a more ethnic reporting. In any case, Silvano’s images provide us with testimony that provokes reflection.


lt is given that Silvano Ruffini is one of the best contemporary photographers in restoring beauty, in all its forms, even in its most tragic aspects. This pastoral collection, photographically speaking almost minimalist, takes us into another universe far from our daily life and its worries. Long discussions and a gentle approach have to be employed in order to be adopted by all the immortalized subjects. Creating a sincere relationship without haste, sharing unknown evidence, retaking images several times, patiently waiting for the symbiosis of multiple elements, this is true photographic creation. This is the essential difference with the down to earth Smartphone and its timer. In this true textbook case, the photographic work allows us to enter into a human fiction based on the daily wanderings of beings both exceptional and forgotten.

“Valle dell’Omo”

This presentation includes some vaguely magical extracts from this collection, known throughout the world, because of various international publications and for having been already exhibited. The whole is composed of photographs taken by instinct in technical conditions not often suitable to create portraits. The quality of the images, adjusted to the eye and reflexes of Silvano Ruffini, transforms what could be banal souvenir photographs into real questions. Once again, the light is positioned to provide real modeling on perfectly balanced perspectives.

In each of the images in this collection, the reader’s penetration into the image goes through contemplation until the visual takes the readers completely out of their environmental context. This is how dialogues are naturally established on the questioning emanating from each of the photographs.

Text by Thierry Maindrault


Exhibition curator Thierry Maindrault


Forte di Bard
11020 Bard
Valle d’Aosta (Italia)
from 16 December 16, 2023 until January 21, 2024
open Monday to Friday
from 10.00 am to 01.00 pm and from 02.00 pm to 05.00 pm
phone  + 39 0125 833818

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