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Stefano Sabene



From the Greek classics onwards, literature associates leaves with concepts such as ephemeral, precarious, a perfect allegory of human transience. Giuseppe Ungaretti, poet and soldier of World War I, in his poem “Soldati”, expresses this condition with the gaunt lines: “It is like / in autumn / on the trees / the leaves”.

Here echoes the warning of Qoheleth: “Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas”, a wisdom lesson repudiated by a society, the Western one, which hides death in every way, thus trivializing life.

The photographic declination of the theme is carried out with a scanner, on which I placed some leaves collected from the ground at the end of their life cycle. Leaves chosen without particular attention to the aesthetic aspect, because all of them, having participated in that unfathomable mystery that is life, have equal dignity.

The digital scan reveals a harmonious microcosm in each leaf, in whose innervations the image of a tree seems to reproduce.

The first element I tried to render is the architecture of the bearing lines, determined by a variable geometry depending on the plant species, but which all respond to a single function: photosynthesis; lines that end up jagged in increasingly thick and thin networks, generating imaginative textures of extraordinary complexity and graphic interest. Paul Klee’s lesson was invaluable in this research.

The second element is color, which assuming the most unpredictable shades is a mute witness to the life that still comes out from the leaf.

It seemed to me more effective, for expressive purposes, to study crops, avoiding a documentary representation of purely botanical interest, instead aiming to compose images with abstract motifs, resulting from lines, textures, colors and luminances.

Loredana De Pace

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