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Capodanno, Myth and reality in the new year of Positano

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Myth and reality in the new year of Positano
Massimo Capodanno’s photos capture the seaside town’s wondrous spirit


Saverio bites on the freshly-caught octopus’s head to kill it as tradition would require. Fish and the fishermen. Boys with the fiercely defiant gazes. The penetrating stares of the old men. Boats, appearing tiny out at sea or upturned on the beaches, providing a backbone to the surf. Then there are the models. And politicians. And the foreigners. All of Positano and the essence of the Costiera [Amalfi Coast], places from yesteryear and from today. It’s all there, captured in the shots of Roman photographer Massimo Capodanno in his dedication to his adopted land, which will be on exhibit from May 9 to June 12 in the town at the Galleria D’Arte-Ristorante Mediterraneo.

Some 20 paintings spanning the 40 years spent in Positano – paintings of its people, its colours, its habits. Scenes of fishermen, of common folk, and of celebrities. Most are in black and white, and tell the story of a mythical town, worldly yet ancient, humble yet cultured – always a land with an intermingling of contrasts, just as its mountains are face-to-face with its dreamy sea.

There he is, Capitano Saverio, pompous in all his natural savageness, eyes squinting in effort as he stands in his boat biting on the head of the octopus. And there is Gennaro òPachialone surprised by the attempt as he mans the oars of the tiny boat – he himself weighing over 100 kilos (220 lbs). Men, and women all named Lucy – offspring of Teresa – all who operate the rental business of rowboats, rubber rafts, and speedboats. Then there’s the top Playboy model, nicely tanned and provocatively showing off her lower back to the photographer trying to capture her toplessness by surprise.

Images, each one telling a tale – events and history together – like the one of the then British prime minister James Callaghan, on the beach yet fully dressed, as he sits reading a magazine beside his wife.

Images, each of which reveal Capodanno’s passionate calling to capture the moment. He grew up with the desire to be a painter, then made his living as a photographer, traveling the world for decades as a photojournalist for ANSA, always staying “on top of the news.” with current events, sports, and politics. This may be why he is able to resist falling into the temptation – even in the face of such a picturesque land as Positano.

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