UNDER THE SKY OF ROME / TWELVE RANDOM AND ABSTRACT IMAGES TO TELL SENSE AND SENSATIONS OF A CITY…

 

 

© Roberto Alborghetti – LaceR/Actions, 2014

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These pictures aren’t paintings (oils, acrylics, watercolors or digital works), but just natural, random and not manipulated images of the amazing imperfection of the real world we see around us. I took them some days ago, during a rush-visit to Rome. Through these pics I tried to tell the sense of Caput Mundi: red as passion, yellow as history, black as power and its ghosts…

R.A.

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 Roberto Alborghetti ‘s LaceR/Actions is a multidisciplinary project and research about the apparent chaos of decomposed posters, cracks, scratches and urban/street signs. Transferred on canvases, reproduced on lithographic prints or textiles (as pure silk), re-built on collages or scanned in videoclips, the images of torn and disfigured posters and natural cracks give new meanings and expressions to paper lacerations and matter decomposition, as you may see in this gallery showing some works from the collection of about 50.000 images captured so far by Roberto Alborghetti during his research all around the world.

A Roberto Alborghetti Show (“Colors of an Apocalypse: An Intrigue for the Eyes and Mind from the Decomposed Publicity Posters”) was displaced for 100 days in the enchanting Aldobrandesca Fortress (XIII Century) in Tuscany (Piancastagnaio, Siena, Italy) from October 6, 2012, to January 15, 2013. His recent projects:  “Contemplations and Lacer/actions” (album, videoclip, installations, inspired by Thomas of Bergamo Scripts, 1563-1631), “Atelier of Colors and Emotions” (a project which involved autistic kids, 2013 and 2014 ), “Lacer/actions on Aluminium” (11 installations for Fai Private Collection, Italy). Roberto Alborghetti works are part of Contemporary Art Collection (Mercatello sul Metauro, Marche, Italy) and participating to “An Exhibition, a Restoration” in Norcia (Umbria, Italy) from July 12 to September 7, 2014.

THE REMARKABLE “HEMISPHERES” OF TERZA LOGGIA: HOW RENAISSANCE PAINTED THE MODERN WORLD / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES # 4

Terza Loggia (Third Loggia) is another stunning place in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, Rome. On its walls we admire maps of the modern world painted between 1560 and 1585. They include the wonderful Emispheres, the frescoes designed by Ignazio Danti (1582 ca). I recently had the opportunity to visit Terza Loggia (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). I’m so glad to share some pics and news I found in a very interesting research by Francesca Fiorani (“Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance”).

The first map cycles with maps of the modern world were painted for the papal residence at the Vatican between 1560 and 1585. Pope Pius IV commissioned the French cartographer Etienne Du Pérac to prepare the cartoons for thirteen modern maps of Europe, which were to be painted in the east wing of the Terza Loggia, the third story of the Renaissance addition to the papal residence Du Pérac arranged the maps according to the order of Ptolemy, but based their cartographic content on Gerardus Mercator’s map of Europe (1554) and additional modern maps.

On the wall above the maps are landscape views related to the mapped territories, while on the vaults of the loggia are inscriptions commemorating papal deeds, along with scenes painted by Lorenzo Sabatini illustrating examples of good and bad life. Unfinished at Pius IV’s death and untouched by his successor, Pius V, the Terza Loggia was completed around 1580, when Gregory XIII entrusted the Dominican polymath Ignazio Danti with the design of a world map divided into two hemispheres and ten maps of Africa, Asia, and America, which were painted by Giovanni Antonio Vanosino. Danti, who had served Gregory XIII in the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, based the completion of the Terza Loggia on the similar map cycles in the Guardaroba Nuova in Florence that he had made for Cosimo I in the 1560s, a fact attested by comparing the Vatican maps with the earlier Florentine maps.

The maps of the world were complemented by city views that have not survived. Danti was also responsible for the connection between the maps and the other parts of the decoration. On the wall above the maps, a frieze painted by Antonio Tempesta and Mattheus Bril illustrates the procession staged in 1580 for the translation of Gregory of Nazianzus’s body to Saint Peter’s, celebrating Gregory XIII’s wish to reunify believers under the Greek and Roman rites. On the ceiling, scenes of paradise inspired by the breviary, the liturgical text Gregory XIII had reformed in the early 1580s, refer to the papal desire to unify the Catholic liturgy worldwide. The inscriptions commemorating important events of Gregory XIII’s pontificate, also on the ceiling, restate the centrality of Rome to Catholic spirituality.

As a whole, the Terza Loggia celebrates the wish of the post-Tridentine papacy to expand Catholicism universally by reconverting large parts of Europe to the Catholic faith, reaffirming the unity between those under the Greek and Roman rites, and converting the peoples of Africa, Asia, and America. The actions of the Roman pontiffs, recalled metonymically in the frieze of the Gregorian procession and in the inscriptions of papal deeds on the ceiling, took place in Rome, but their effect needed to spread to the world mapped on the walls below. That papal actions were meant to affect the world spiritually rather than politically is made manifest by the scenes from paradise, which crown both the scenes of papal deeds and the maps of the world below.

Following a firm medieval tradition, post-Tridentine popes adopted the language of Renaissance cartography as a vehicle of their ecumenical message. But, unlike their medieval predecessors, they had detailed maps with which to penetrate unknown lands and thus transform the medieval dream into a real program of propagating the faith. Indeed, the use of modern cartography for religious purposes became such a distinctive element of papal iconography that the Terza Loggia, even before its completion, served as a model for Cardinal Farnese’s Sala della Cosmografia discussed earlier. Francesca Fiorani, From “Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance

(4 – To be continued)

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THE TRIUMPH OF RENAISSANCE: THE IMPRESSIVE REGAL ROOM AND DUCAL ROOM / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #3

© Roberto Alborghetti - Sala Regia and Sala Ducale (12)

Sala Regia (Regal Room) and Sala Ducale (Ducal Room) are two beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. They aren’t generally open to visitors: they usually host consistories, conferences, papal hearings or special events. I recently had the opportunity to visit them (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). Here some news (from New Advent website) about Sala Regia and Sala Ducale. They well represent the triumph of Renaissance.  

The Sala Regia (Regal Room)

 Although not intended as such, this broad room is really an antechamber to the Sistine Chapel, reached by the Scala Regia (Royal Staircase). To the left of the entrance formerly stood the papal throne, which is now at the opposite side before the door leading to the Cappella Paolina. The hall was begun under Paul III by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and was completed in 1573. The elegant barrel-vault is provided with the highly graceful and very impressive plaster decorations of Pierin del Vaga. The stucco ornaments over the doors are by Daniele da Volterra. The longitudinal walls are broken on the one side by two, and on the other by three, large doors, between which Giorgio Vasari and Taddeo Zuccaro have introduced very powerful frescoes, whose effect is more than ornamental. They depict momentous turning-points in the life of the Church, among others the return of Gregory XI from Avignon to Rome, the battle of Lepanto, the raising of the ban from Henry IV, and the reconciliation of Alexander III with Frederick Barbarossa. This hall served originally for the reception of princes and royal ambassadors. Today the consistories are held in it, and an occasional musical recital in the presence of the Pope; during a conclave it is a favourite promenade for the cardinals.

The Sala Ducale (Ducal Room)

The Sala Ducale lies between the Sala Regia and the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine. Formerly there were here two separate halls, which were converted into one by Bernini by the removal of the separating wall (the position of which is still clearly perceptible). The decorative paintings, which are of a purely ornamental nature, are by Raffaellino da Reggio, Sabbatini, and Matthæus Brill. In this impressive hall were formerly held the public consistories for the reception of ruling princes. It now serves occasionally for the reception of pilgrims, the consecration of bishops, when (as rarely happens) this is undertaken by the Pope, or is used for the accommodation of specified divisions of the papal household, when the pope holds a consistory in the Sala Regia, proceeds to the Sistine Chapel, or sets out with great solemnity for St. Peter’s.

(3 – To be continued)

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INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #2 / EXCLUSIVE: THE FRESCOES BY MICHELANGELO IN CAPPELLA PAOLINA (LIMITED ACCESSIBILITY AREA)

I recently had the honour to meet Pope Francis for the presention of the biography I wrote about him. The private encounter took place in Casa Santa Marta, an unpretencious house where he usually lives. Before the encounter I had a very special gift: the possibility to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. I been also in the enchanting Cappella Paolina (the Pauline Chapel) to admire the incredible fresco paintings by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo Buonarroti : The Crucifixion of St. Peter (c. 1546–1550) and The Conversion of Saul (c. 1542–1545).

Being a sacred space, Pauline Chapel is a limited accessibility area. Despite the efforts of contemporary scholars to illustrate the genius behind these two works, they remain relatively obscure. This is due primarily to the fact that tourists are not permitted to enter the Pauline chapel because it’s a worship space. Most of those who do know of these works will never have the opportunity to see them in person. According to Williams no other work by Michelangelo has ever been so grossly misrepresented in reproductions. The only way to view these works as the artist intended them to be seen is to see them in situ.

The Crucifixion of St. Peter is the last fresco executed by Michelangelo. The artist portrayed St. Peter in the moment in which he was raised by the Roman soldiers to the cross. Michelangelo concentrated the attention on the depiction of pain and suffering. Pope Paul commissioned this fresco by Michelangelo in 1541 and unveiled it in his Cappella Paolina. Restoration of the fresco completed in 2009 revealed an image believed to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself. Vasari states about the fresco: “There are no landscapes to be seen in these scenes, nor any trees, buildings or other embellishments and variation”.

The positioning of St. Peter himself is often noted as the most interesting innovation Michelangelo implemented in this piece. He defied convention by positioning Peter’s upper body so that it cranes upward and twists his neck around so that his eyes make contact with the viewer.

The Conversion of St. Saul or St. Paul  is often discussed in conjunction with The Crucifixion of St. Peter. As its title suggests, the fresco represents the conversion of a lawyer from Tarsus named Saul (a man who prosecuted Christians) into a follower of Christ. In the book of Acts, Paul states that he saw an impossibly bright light and heard the voice of Christ himself. The blindingly bright light is the Apex of this story. The style is more mannerist than his earlier Sistine Chapel frescoes, and was not as well received by contemporaries.

Giuseppe Frangi (30 Giorni) writes: “On 25 January 1540, the Feastday of the Conversion of St Paul, until then celebrated in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Paul III Farnese consecrated to the saint whose name he had taken, the new parva (small) chapel, commissioned from Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and built in just three years in the heart of the Papal Palace. The chapel – parva as opposed to the chapel magna, the functions of which had been taken over by the Sistine – was the chapel intended for the conclave. And above all it was the place where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, for which purpose it had been fitted with both an altar and a tabernacle. When Paul III consecrated it, the chapel had no decorations, but it was clear who would climb the scaffolding: it was again up to Michelangelo, just down from the scaffolding of the Sistine Chapel, where he completed the great toil of the Last Judgment”.

 The reconstruction of the work – Frangi states – done day by day, made possible by modern restoration techniques, shows Michelangelo was capable of getting through a large amount of work in a day. Eventually there were 172 working days (85 for the Conversion of St Paul and 87 for the Crucifixion of St Peter), spread over seven years, with the break in 1544, when he was halted by health problems. These frescoes were largely ignored for centuries and incurred a great deal of damage due to neglect. In the early twentieth century there were some scholars who came to reconsider the frescoes under the new light of expressionism and abstraction.

William Wallace proposed an entirely new perspective on the subject claiming that the disproportionate quality of the figures is not a failing on the part of Michelangelo, but rather another instance of his genius. According to Wallace, the real innovation in this piece comes from the incorporation of time and space in the overall composition of the frescos. In addition to conceiving of these frescoes in terms of perspective, Michelangelo also took into consideration the architectural and environmental context they were to be set in.

After the last restoration Pope Benedict XVI said: “The two faces are opposite each other. One might therefore imagine that Peter’s face is actually turned towards the face of Paul, who, in turn, does not see, but bears within him the light of the Risen Christ. It is as though Peter, in the hour of supreme trial, were seeking that light which gave true faith to Paul”.

(2 – To be continued)

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I LEAD YOU INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #1 / THE BEAUTIFUL BERNINI’S ROYAL STAIRCASE…

© Roberto Alborghetti

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Before my recent private encounter with Pope Francis  for the presention of the biography I wrote about him, I had the way to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City; as we know, Pope Francis doesn’t live there, but  in the unpretencious house, Casa Santa Marta, where I met him.

I been firstly on the incredible Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Scala Regia ( Royal Staircase) which is a flight of steps and part of the formal entrance to the Vatican. It was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in the early 16th century, to connect the Apostolic Palace to St. Peter’s Basilica, and restored by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1663 to 1666.

The site for the stairs, a comparatively narrow sliver of land between church and palace, is awkwardly shaped with irregular converging walls. Bernini used a number of typically theatrical, baroque effects in order to exalt this entry point into Vatican. The staircase proper takes the form of a barrel-vaulted colonnade that necessarily becomes narrower at the end of the vista, exaggerating the distance. Above the arch at the beginning of this vista is the coat of arms of Alexander VII, flanked by two sculpted angels.

(1 – TO BE CONTINUED)

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FROM SAHARA TO TIBET: IN ROME THE LARGEST RETROSPECTIVE DEVOTED TO GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER KAZUYOSHI NOMACHI

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF PRESS OFFICE / “NOMACHI:LE VIE DEL SACRO” EXHIBITION,  2013-2014, ROME.

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“Kazuyoshi Nomachi: Le Vie del Sacro” (The Ways of the Sacred) is the title of a great show hosted in Rome (Italy) at La Pelanda, Centro di Produzione Culturale, Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4, from December 14, 2013 to May 4, 2014. 

The exhibition is described as the largest retrospective devoted to Kazuyoshi Nomachi as well as the first time that the work of Japanese photographer has been exhibited in the West. There are about 200 images in the exhibition which is divided into seven sections spanning the photographer’s 40-year career. Nomachi has documented various peoples and ancient traditions in some of the world’s most remote places, always obtaining a level of discretion, even sacredness in his work.

 Kazuyoshi Nomachi has always been a documentary photographer, since his first trip in the Sahara when he was twenty five years. In Africa was fascinated by the great outdoors and the strength of the people who live in such difficult environments. For over 40 years, around the theme “the prayer of the search for the sacred”, he turned his attention to the most diverse traditional cultures which            are the expression of the peoples who inhabit the lands harsher, to the four corners of the world. Nomachi was able to capture the spirituality that runs through the landscapes of unique and extraordinary beauty, where the portraits and human figures assume an absolute dignity and blend with the context in almost pictorial            compositions, dominated by a dazzling light, real and transcendental at the same time, as we admire in the wonderful exhibition in Rome.

http://www.mostranomachi.it/

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 THE SEVEN SECTIONS OF THE EXHIBITION

DESCRIBED BY KAZUYOSHI NOMACHI  

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of plateaux and deserts, divided in two by the Rift Valley, where tectonic activity continues to lacerate the African continent. The country is characterized by great diversity, and the areas inhabited by man range from uplands at an altitude of 3,500 meters to desert 115 meters below sea level. Eighty-three ethnic groups live here, each holding fast to their own culture. In the midst of a “Sea of Islam”, a Christian culture, which has been passed on from generation to generation since ancient times, still survives in these isolate uplands at an average altitude of 2,500 meters. During its 3,000-year history, Ethiopia has always maintained close relations with Arabia and Palestine across the Red Sea, rather than with Black Africa. In the mountains of North Ethiopia, I have seen churches carved out of the rocks and isolated monasteries where worship is the same as it was in biblical times.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Ganges

The great river Ganges originates in the Himalayan glaciers, flows across the Indian plains for 2,500 kilometers and empties into the Bay of Bengal. This muddy river, swollen by monsoon rains, is a perennial source of irrigation for Indian agriculture, and its waters, profoundly linked to the veneration of Shiva, are worshipped. The sins of those who immerse themselves in the Ganges are washed away, and people who scatter the ashes of their dead upon its waters allow the deceased’s soul to be reborn in heaven, freed from the sufferings of reincarnation. I have visited several of the many sacred places along the banks of the river, which are always crowded with pilgrims. At the Maha Kumbh Mela festival, the main Indian religious event that astrologers have decreed should take place every 12 years, tens of millions of Hindus gather to pray, participating in ceremonies and rituals inherited from ancient India.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Islam

Islamic faith, that advocates the worship of Allah as the one God, was founded in the 7th century by Muhammad, a merchant in Mecca. One hundred years later it had taken a firm hold and expanded to constitute a vast cultural area stretching from the Iberian peninsula to India. The teachings of Islam – whose heart lies in Mecca where the Kaaba, the symbol of Allah, is located – have spread throughout the world, and today there are 1.6 billion believers. According to the Quran, all Muslims must undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. I had the privilege of photographing the sacred site thanks to a Saudi publisher.

The pilgrimage is the fulcrum of Islamic faith, the source of its vitality. The Shiite Muslims live mainly in Iran and the surrounding regions. Since their credo is influenced by the religious beliefs of ancient Persia, there are facets of Shiite Islam that are not evident in the strict monotheism of the Arabian Peninsula.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Sahara

The land gradually becomes more arid as you cross over the high Atlas Mountains then head south; the road leads to an extremely dry area composed of layers of sand and rock. As soon as you get past the hostile, towering rocks, you find yourself in a world of sand, sculpted in breathtaking, undulating dunes. The vast emptiness continues, even after driving for three or four days and is only broken by the green patches of the oasis.The magnitude of Sahara does not lie solely in its vastness: until a few thousand years ago, it used to be a part of a wet climate zone as can be seen from the images depicting life and animals carved in the rocks of the mountainous areas over a period of 8,000 years.

When I discovered the Sahara in 1972, I was completely captivated by it. On my return trips I felt time and again that I had perceived its true nature, which is hardly visible and seems almost hidden by a veil”.

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Nile

I was 34 years old when, in October 1980, I began exploring the Nile in a jeep that I had brought from Europe. The diverse nature and the people along the Nile absolutely enchanted me. I was particularly fascinated by a tribe of herdsmen living with their animals, like they did in prehistoric times, in South Sudan. Sadly, this region has been turned into a wasteland by the endless civil war and the famine that began in 1983. When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, I had a great desire to see what had happened to that tribe of breeders with my own eyes. After 32 years, I stood again in the endless wilderness where livestock and men coexist. Despite the fact that modern civilization has now penetrated the remotest regions in Africa, the lifestyle of these herdsmen has basically remained the same: they still live amidst the smoke from burning cow dung to ward off the mosquitoes.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Tibet

My first travels to Tibet date to the end of the 1980s. The Tibetan plateau stretches into the heart of Asia, way beyond the Himalayas. The average altitude is 3,500 meters in these cold uplands, where vegetation is scant.

The people survive on pasturage and make their living raising yak, which are acclimatized to the high altitude. Tibet is a devout Buddhist country. After inheriting Buddhism from India, Tibetans deepened it through their unique sensitivity and their view of life, forged by the harshness of a rigid climate. In contrast to other Buddhist countries, where the religion became vulgarized over time and gradually distanced itself from the original form, the Tibetans have shaped their society through the enrichment of Buddhist teachings founded on the theory of reincarnation. Western countries now refer to Tibetan Buddhism as ‘the’ Buddhism. This is partly due to the Tibetans’ optimism and gentleness, which stem from their belief in the equality of life, nurtured by the finite ecology of Tibet and the Himalayas.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Andes

The North and south Americas were cut off from Eurasia until Columbus discovered the ‘new continents’, while the original Inca culture had expanded to the high Andes in the South American continent: however, when the Spanish arrived there in the 16th century, the vast Inca empire was destroyed in a flash. It was a tragic encounter between the strongest nation in the world, which sailed across the Atlantic to colonize the Inca, and a people who had no knowledge of the outside world. The Spanish conquerors forced a part of the population of the Andes to convert to Christianity. The Inca secretly incorporated the traditional Inca faith in the Christian religion, transforming it into a unique form of Andes Christianity. The origin of the Quyllur Rit’i pilgrimage, on which I went in 2004, lies in the legend that Jesus Christ incarnate appeared on a high mountain near Cusco, at a place the Incas believed to be holy ground.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

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 ABOUT KAZUYOSHI NOMACHI

http://www.nomachi.com/index_en.html

Kazuyoshi Nomachi was born in Japan in 1946 in Kochi Prefecture. He studied  at Kochi Technical High School and started taking photographs then as a teenager. In 1969 He studied photography under Takashi Kijima. In 1971 he began his career as a freelance advertising photographer and in the next year he made his first trip to the Sahara where he was shocked to see the strong life of the people living under the harsh environment of the area. This made him to switch his career to  photojournalism.

Through his long experience at the extreme dryness of the Sahara, he gained an inspiration from the Nile which was fostered as the theme, The Nile ever lasting water flow that never dry up while running through the dryness of the Saharah. With this theme, from 1980 he started his coverage of the White Nile from the Nile Delta up to its first drip of water at an iceberg in Uganda and up the Blue Nile to its origin at the highlands of Ethiopia. The coverage of the two flows allowed him to capture the images of the strength of the environment and the people of this vast region of Africa.

Since 1988 he turned his attention to Asia. With the occasion of his coverage of the western areas of China, he got attracted with the people living at the extreme altitude of Tibet and the Buddhism. This encounter led to his visit to almost whole area of Tibetan cultural zone and initiated his visit to the origins and the whole area of the sacred Ganges which is also the roots of Hinduism from 2004 to 2008. From 1995 to 2000 Nomachi had access to the holiest city of Islam and travels for five years in Saudi Arabia, having the very opportunity to photograph the largest annual pilgrimage to Mecca and  Medina. It had been the first to document so deep and wide the miraculous pilgrimage of over 2 million Muslims towards their holy city, Mecca.

From 2002, he visited the Andes highlands, Peru and Bolivia with a theme of the blending of the catholic belief with the Inca civilization. His visit to this area still continue since then. Concentrated in 12 major anthological issues, his photographs have been published worldwide and appeared in major photo magazines, such as The National Geographic, GEO and Stern. The work carried out in the Sahara, along the Nile, in Ethiopia, Tibet and Arabia, have aroused great admiration over the years , even in Western countries and have won numerous awards, including the Annual Award of the Photographic Society of Japan in 1990 and 1997 and the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 2009.

IN ROME SPECTACULAR DUTCH FLORAL ART, FASHION & DESIGN: CLOTHES CREATED WITH FRESH ORANGE FLOWERS FOR THE NEW KING OF THE NETHERLANDS

The Queen of Holland, Beatrice, on April 30, abdicated in favor of his son, the future King William Alexander. The traditional national holiday became the occasion for a series of initiatives in and outside the Netherlands. In order to involve the citizens of Rome to Dutch festivity, the Embassy of the Netherlands, in collaboration with “Roma Capitale” and Holland Flower Council  organized a compelling “Orange Flowers Festival”. Rome celebrated the new Dutch King William Alexander with a colorful ceremony which took place on Capitol Hill. Two models dressed in clothes entirely composed of fresh flowers offered to the Mayor of Rome a sparkling and unique flower arrangement consisting of different types of orange flowers.The event served to highlight two areas of excellence of Dutch economy: floriculture and fashion & design.