Alla radice del non illusorio
(At the roots of the not illusory)
September 23–December 19 2015
Opening: Tuesday, September 22, 7pm
Corso di Porta Nuova 38
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–7pm. Saturday by appointment.
T +39 0245478189
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Cardi gallery is pleased to present Enrico Castellani: Alla radice del non illusorio (At the roots of the not illusory). On display is a selection of 15 works from the 1960s to the 2000s.
The artistic practice of Enrico Castellani can be placed inside the abstraction trend: an abstract art that is self-referential, structural and constructive, with minimal and conceptual influences overtaking those of the informal vitalism of both Europe and America. The similarities lie rather with the optical and kinetic art of the T Group in the ’60s, or with the work of the Zero Group in Germany.
Bonded to classic means such as canvas, frames and nails, Castellani overtakes the informal in favour of a plastic and visual expression that results in a cold and impersonal style of painting, often characterized by monochrome surfaces organized three-dimensionally by way of elevation and depression, empty and full spaces, eversion and introflections. The surface is conceived in a dynamic way—geometrically structured, rationally designed, and innervated by minimal and primary articulations in which there’s no virtual or illusory reference.
The only external and modifying intervention is the light that alters the visual perception hitting the outstretched surface. Eschewing spiritual or mystical attitudes, the artist creates a materialistic process to activate the physical or mental perception of a dimension that is theoretically infinite.
Today Castellani is looked up as one of the most important painters of our times. In recent years, he has moved his research away from the idea of creating pictorial objects with an indisputable essence, not subject to interpretation. “The work,” he says, “is what you see.”
He operates on the canvas, sensitizing the surface with elevations (eversion and introflections) with the aim of making it detectable. The canvas is divided in geometric and mental grid patterns in the most impersonal way. The only compositional criterion is concreteness that tends to infinite. His work is characterized by its lucidity; it’s essential and free from any emotionality.
Enrico Castellani was born around Rovigo in 1930. He studied art, sculpture and architecture in Belgium until 1956, when he graduated from École Nationale Superieure. The following year he came back to Italy and moved to Milan, where he became one of the most active representatives of the new artistic scene. After his first experiences of Informal art, inspired by American action painting, he felt the urge to overtake this kind of art, collaborating with the magazine Azimuth, which he founded with Piero Manzoni, and elaborating a new beginning that suggested the total resetting of the previous artistic experience.
It was in 1959 that Castellani made his first relief surface, creating what would become his own personal style. With perseverance and severity he defined what the critics called ripetizione differente (different repetition), considered by many critics an extreme purity, where the carefully chosen repetition of empty and full spaces, obtained by the rhythmical eversions of the canvas, establishes a new path at all times, though always coherent and intense.
From that moment on, his research developed around the eversion, but in his coherent production we also find works that distance themselves from the relief surfaces, revealing a lot about the themes dear to the artist, such as time and space. In 1967, he realized Ambiente bianco for the show Lo spazio dell’immagine at Palazzo Trinci in Foligno; in 1968, on the occasion of Il teatro delle mostre at La Tartaruga gallery in Rome, he presented Il muro del tempo; in 1969, he made Spartito; and in 1970, Obelisco.
From his debut until now, the works of Enrico Castellani where shown in many important spaces both private and public.
He took part in the Biennale di Venezia in 1964, 1966 (with a solo show), 1984, and in 2003. In 1965 he took part in the collective show The Responsive Eye at the MOMA in New York and at the VIII San Paulo Biennial in Brazil. In1970, he took part in the collective show Vitalità del negativo nell’arte italiana, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. In 1981, he showed at Identité Italien. L’art en Italie depuis 1959, curated by Germano Celant, at Centre Pompidou in Paris.
In 1983, he showed at Palazzo Reale in Milano for the show Arte Programmata e cinetica 1953–63; in 1994, he was invited to show in The Italian metamorhosis at Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
An important anthological show curated by Germano Celant took place at Fondazione Prada in Milan in 2001 and at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge in 2002. In 2005, at Pushkin Museum in Moscow, he had a solo show curated by Bruno Corà.
On October 13, 2010, Enrico Castellani received the Imperial Premium for painting from Prince Hitaki, Honorary patron of the Japan Art Association. The award is the highest international artistic recognition.
The show is curated by Annamaria Maggi. With this show, Cardi gallery confirms its interest in historical artists, national or international.
Elena Bodecchi, firstname.lastname@example.org