Some images are unforgettable. Such as the scene with Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin standing in mourning dress at the edge of a pool, looking down, silently united in the ritual of mourning, but preoccupied with their own harrowing thoughts. This is the closing scene of ‘La Piscine’ (The Swimming Pool), Jacques Deray’s film—a stylish psychological drama, a Freudian hall of mirrors that is set in high-society circles on the Côte d'Azur in the late 1960s.
In the photographer Gian Paul Lozza’s current picture series is a subject that has resonances of Deray’s chamber drama at the poolside, this glamorous and yet profound film concentrated into a single moment that has become an enduring image. We see a swimming pool in a Mediterranean garden: pines, oleanders and jasmine. The turquoise water shimmers and there is some abandoned furniture at the edge of the pool. It is night and the border of natural stone is slowly releasing the stored heat of the day into the surrounding atmosphere. There is not a person in sight; just a high red-and-white barrier that acts as a reminder that this paradise has access restrictions.
‘Pool’, as the large-format picture is titled, incorporates a wonderful, multi-faceted moment of déjà-vu: it is almost a film set without actors that evokes the specific memory of ‘La Piscine’ and releases an echo of personal experiences. Like nearly all the works from Gian Paul Lozza’s ‘Somnium’ series, ‘Pool’ directly plays with the viewer’s own cultural reservoir—the intersubjective storehouse of images and stories that has developed in popular culture. ‘Pool’ evokes a multi-layered and multi-faceted network of narrative experiences and does not shrink away from what can be threatening scenarios that issue from the subconscious. ‘This is a journey into the depths of the human psyche’, says Gian Paul Lozza. ‘It is dark and melancholy there. The viewer is abandoned to himself. The film of the internal images takes him captive and leads him into unknown recesses of his consciousness’.
Lozza’s series is an attempt at a typology. So there are no living creatures to be seen in the photographs, nor is there the slightest sign of any active movement. The pictures are mute, silent and frozen in the subdued nocturnal low-light. And yet they reveal some traces of civilisation: a faintly lit window in a backyard (‘Backyard’), two barrels on a platform (‘Barrels’), a visitor’s ramp on the glacier tongue (‘Glacier’), a stratified pile of dead wood at the edge of a forest (‘Wood Pile’). This gives rise to a precise, temporally graduated progression from the absent action in the past to its physical evidence and then to the presence of the photographer who encounters these traces and documents them to create a de-subjectivised, distinctly non-anecdotal visual space that the viewers can bring to life in turn with their own store of associations.
Lozza also calls his landscape photographs ‘Metascapes’, providing a further allusion to a cultural-historical reference system that includes the landscape painting of the 19th century. Lozza photographs exclusively at night in order to focus in on the structural visual objects. The colours therefore generate a pallid impression that leads to a painterly haziness. Associations are generated here to the imposing, almost abstract evening pictures of the Romantic William Turner, whose engagement with landscape has permanently changed how we represent the experience of nature. Gian Paul Lozza’s enigmatic visual worlds also involve changes in perception: his unpopulated landscapes certainly flirt with the concept of beauty but they insistently demand an engagement both with immediately existing realities and with photographic and cultural realities.