Think of the blues and the mind tends to drift somewhere sombre, heavy and melancholic in sound, colour and feel. Carrying the weight of this thought and imparting so much more, are the myriad blues of volcanic island Ischia, Italy. Moody, nostalgic, tranquil. Familiar, embracing, and yet somewhere else, somewhere distant, light and delicate. Or perhaps this is what photographer Anna Pihan (@annapihan) skilfully brings to our sight. Just as we might wonder if indeed it is us who dream, or the dream that comes to us, Pihan's vision is omnipotent and seamless. She is at once enveloped in the scene, and a separate entity, watching as the picture; as life, unfolds.
The town of Ischia lies on the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. With Vesuvius in eye's grasp, Ischia exudes an antiquity that paints its edges with glints of gold. The shades and tones of blue are endless, from the romance of the parasols casting shadows down on warm bodies, to the shimmering reflection of the sun on rippling pools. This collection is an ode to states of ease and the authenticity of these instants; be it in moments of recline, bathing, or vacancy. Wading, watching, or waiting. Because what we are invited to see are windows of time passing. It is a capsule of both nostalgia and myth; the knowledge that the summer sun will eventually sleep, but the childlike illusion of a space in which it seems that time does not matter, nor will it ever run out.
Pihan's photography depicts landscapes, and still lives, and moments from her own experiences of each. It is at times indistinguishably populated, and at other times, not. It prompts the question - what is it to evoke a sense of the holidays without bodies? Without people, without leisure, without relaxation. How is it quantified? And what does the absence of these bodies mean? The shutting of doors, empty chairs, and closed parasols. Is it the end of the season or just the end of the day, the start of another? These signs of another setting sun are personified in growing shadows, the deepening, darkening blues, the lens filter suddenly tinged with yellow and gold. The reminiscent smell of sunscreen starts to fade, the dimpling sea shores quiet, the days slow; or so we can only imagine. Instead, in the absence of bodies, we find ourselves contributing to the scene, no longer an onlooker.
It is just like that, as the air begins to lighten and lift, and the sunset falls, that we are urged into reflection, on the sea and on ourselves, reclining into thought, or lack thereof, and slipping into silence.
Pihan gives us a glimpse into this seasonal ritual in Ischia, and it is hypnotising, sensual and bittersweet. A familiarity and warmth oozes from her captures; something salty, sleepy and effortless. "The Pleasure of Leisure" she simply calls it; the hashtag that follows each one of her posts as if it were the spirit with which each photo was taken. More recently, it is also the title given to her photobook in collaboration with Milou Neelan of Hotel Magique (www.thepleasureofleisure.com) - a collection of kindred captures from Italy to Australia, or in their words, "a blissful visual escape that feels like a holiday".
An aficionado of balmy aestheticism and candor, it is one of the unmistakeable charms of Pihan's work. The pleasure is hers, mine, and yours. These Ischia blues sing the words of our summertime soliloquy, and sends our hearts away dreaming of being somewhere else.
Living in a perpetual state of exploration, Anna Pihan seeks aesthetic pleasure wherever she goes. Accompanied by her cameras and plenty of film, she invites viewers into a sunny world of leisure with a unique eye for detail. Anna Pihan creates imagery that ignites the senses in forms of travel, fashion, still life and interior photography. Her work has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco and Sydney, and she regularly contributes to publications internationally. Explore her world through fine art prints, books and collaborations. She is currently based between Europe and Australia.