Riccardo Zipoli is an Italian photographer, teacher, writer, and maybe above all – an Iranologist, a lover of Persia.
Zipoli began his academic career in 1978, and now chairs the Department of Eurasian Studies at the University of Venice, where he teaches Persian literature and photography. He’s the author of multiple publications, and his scholarship engages historical and stylistic problems in classical Persian literature, particularly concerning the Sabk-i Hindi (lit. ‘Indian Style’).
What initially began in the 70s as an interest in the landscape photography of rural Iran has now turned into a career that has taken him to dozens of countries, and seen his works showcased all around the world.
His latest book, Riflessi di Persia (Reflections of Persia) brings together the uniqueness of the scholar and photographer’s life and work. On his first journey in the Persian gulf, he said:
My initial impression was that I had been plunged into a world of unreal landscapes. Now, so many years later, I understand the reason for this better. Those landscapes rich in forms and colors were as if stripped of that third dimension which usually characterizes our everyday world.
Perhaps it was the strong, very clear light, the incredibly bright hues, the limpidness and almost complete absence of shadows, the deep silence and the total solitude, but those scenes seemed to be contrived. They appeared to have been portrayed on a canvas, but with no perspective, in a style reminiscent of miniature painting.
Riccardo’s work evokes that what is distant, what is natural, that what inspires and captivates without ever being fully captured (it’s out there, above the mountain peaks). It’s something we all share, and something he found so beautifully illustrated all around Iran.
That something is something we can build our future on. Like Zipoli says:
The overall picture is of an area outside the current conflicts — a beautiful, fascinating, and peaceful realm. Moreover, in this region Iranians and Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis live together in keeping with the cosmopolitan spirit of the past, offering a great opportunity for fraternity and progress.
The hope is that with the help of science, culture, and art the day will soon come when local natural resources will be secured from any threat, and military helicopters and aircraft carriers will leave the sea forever to dolphins and seagulls.
All in all, Zipoli’s love affair with Persia is more than just an affair, it’s love, love for the world outside his world, it’s love seeking to know and understand better, and love evergrowing. It’s that sort of love we need more today.