Francesco Pergolesi’s series “Heroes,” which opens at Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago on May 6, is set at dusk, when the proprietors of the tiny Italian shops he depicts are working late—baking bread, making shoes or sharpening knives. Made as a sort of collaboration with storekeepers in Rome, Milan and in small towns including Spoleto, the village in Perugia where Pergolesi grew up, the images were inspired by childhood visits to similar establishments. In the twilight, the shops’ interiors glow with wares hung from ceilings or piled on tables, but the darkness outside feels like an ending, something Pergolesi emphasized in the perspective he creates, of a passerby on a quiet night.
Writes Pergolesi about the series:“When I was a child, I used to walk free, exploring my village streets. I loved to spend time in the little cobbler or the grocery where my grandmother sent me to shop. Time seemed to be extended and gave me a sense of freedom. I grew up loving neighborhoods where human relationships were the center of life. I understood these places were disappearing, pushed by a mysterious force, and a new era was coming.”