Oscar Marzaroli

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Oscar Marzaroli

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow

7th December 2019 – 15th of March 2020


Oscar Marzaroli, born in 1933 in Castiglione, La Spezia, Italy was one of Scotlands most notable documentary photographers. Currently on show at Street Level Photoworks, is a collection of his most recognisable images from Scotland in the 1950’s to the 1980s.

Stepping into Streetlevel you are immediately transported back in time, to post WW2 Glasgow. The streets teeming with life from the Rag n’ Bone men starting their day to children playing with anything they can find on the street, the remnants of the war can still be felt in these images from the crumbling buildings that frame the images subject matter. The Old vs New is a recurring theme within the exhibition, something that interested Marzaroli greatly almost to the point of obsession within his work. This conflicting theme is clearly shown in images from the Gorbals and surrounding area’s as seen in, “The Old and the New, Gorbals, 1968” a single sandstone tenement stands front and centre amongst the ever multiplying high rise flats. The stark contrast between the two grabs the eye, the small dark tenement being both figuratively and literally overshadowed by the shiny new housing that popped up behind it.

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“The Castlemilk Lads, 1963”, is probably one of Marzaroli’s best-known images, and is heavily featured within the exhibition. The gruff and stoic looks of the young boys epitomise growing up in 1960’s Glasgow. Although the boys that feature in the images were not in a gang as they were often thought to be, but rather a bunch of school mates who had just finished a country run. Making the narrative of the image completely different to initial perspective. The boys went their separate ways not long after the image was taken, but are now eternally bonded by Marzaroli’s testament to Glasgow Youth.

Along with the beautifully developed framed images, the exhibition is dotted with large scale versions Marzaroli’s contact sheets. When looking at the contact sheets, you get a real sense of Marzaroli’s style of working. With images like “Boys in Heels” and “The Castlemilk Boys” there’s only one image, a quick snap and then onto the next subject matter, a similar style to that of American photographer Vivian Maier. By seeing contact images next to final images, you can see Marzaroli’s the thought process in a physical manifestation, rather than just a final outcome.

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This is a beautiful exhibition showing the best of Glasgow’s bygone day’s, open now till March 15th at Street Level Photoworks.

Kathryn Milne

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