‘Painting is back. Eighties, painting in Italy ‘: an extraordinary exhibition on the Eighties on stage at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan: an unprecedented look at Italian painting through a path through emblems and cases, conceived by Luca Massimo Barbero, new Associate Curator of Intesa Sanpaolo’s Modern and Contemporary Art Collections. Until October 3, 2021.
The exhibition offers a first investigation of the protagonists of that decade, who provocatively understood painting as a happy and rapacious ability to paint the world of images with a new vitality and who, immediately, had international visibility and an almost overwhelming fame.
Commenting on the historic Berlin exhibition Zeitgeist, in December 1982, the “New York Times” known as “the Italians […] turn up everywhere” (“Gli Italiani […] are everywhere “), a shrewd commentary that testifies to the international energy shared by Italian artists in those years, as well as their disruptive strength with respect to a system that is beginning to define itself as global.
This is not just for the most common names in memory, linked to the fame of the Trans-avant-garde launched, almost in the manner of an avant-garde manifesto, by Achille Bonito Oliva from the pages of “Flash Art” (The Italian Trans-avant-garde, 1979), but also for artists who move in continuity with the previous generation, such as Mario Schifano, present with large canvases, unpublished and singular, with colors almost as desperate as they are pyrotechnic, or Except with its landscapes made of ruins never so vital and throbbing, and more Franco Angeli, here remembered with a Roman nocturnal (1985-1988) of almost two meters in homage to his city or to the vitality of the anthropological and multiethnic echoes of Aldo Mondino.
The decades last very little, they are born and culturally run out well in advance of the official dates: this exhibition starts with works between 1977 and 1980, surprising works because they are germinal, of Gino De Dominicis, Luigi Ontani e Mimmo Paladino to attest to a creative freedom that has its roots in the Italian visual tradition and, without complexes, interprets it also through the drawing, the photographic support up to the revival of a monumental video-installation of 1984, THE SWIMMER (goes to Heidelberg too often), of Studio Azzurro.
The Eighties are no longer understood as an orthodoxy of movements but as the reconstruction of an open dialogue between the protagonists of the time, where authors such as Mario Merz, master of the rediscovery of the great myths of humanity o Carol Rama with a visionary and sensitive painting linked to his own subjectivity.
Fundamental works of Sandro Chia as the Painter 1978 and, in the development of the exhibition in a sort of counterpoint, paintings by Mimmo Germanà together with Ernesto Tatafiore. Francesco Clemente presents historical works such as the Without title 1980 from the Intesa Sanpaolo Collection; while in the course of these years Nicola De Maria tackles mural painting and the great poetic themes that go hand in hand with the irreverent and playful compositions of Aldo Spoldi and the articulated path of Enzo Cucchi, which ideally opens the exhibition with The stigmata (1980).
Different personalities, in dialogue since those years side by side in major international exhibitions; from Venice Biennale a Documenta in Kassel or in exhibitions that have marked the history of art since the seventies, such as Europa79 in Stuttgart (1979), A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy of London (1981) and Zeitgeist in Berlin (1982). It should be remembered, at this juncture, how the Eighties witnessed the birth of a new “art system”Which unites the great galleries of New York, Cologne, Zurich with the galleries of Italian cities such as Modena, Naples, Milan or Turin in a particularly vital and active Italian fabric, even in its province.
With counterparts of a transversal nature, of that middle linked to the great experiments and “other” Milanese culture, the exhibition also accounts for the return to Italy of protagonists of those years such as Mimmo Rotella O Valerio Adami or of that figure of great intellectual, translator, critic that he was Emilio Tadini.
Ad Enrico Baj the exhibition dedicates an entire room built on four rare paintings from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection, made between the fifties and sixties, which accompany the visitor in a maturation of the artist’s pictorial language and creative mechanism, to then lead him to the spectacular The world of ideas: a canvas 19 meters long, spray painted, almost a contemporary graffiti executed in 1983 and today of surprising relevance.