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Mario Nigro was born in Pistoia 1917. In 1929, he moved to Livorno, which will remain his city of adoption; in 1936, he attended the University of Pisa, but he began painting around the age of fifteen, influenced by the local post-Macchiaioli school.Read More
He graduated in Chemistry in 1940 and in December 1947 he obtained a second degree in Pharmacy. In 1948 he was hired as a pharmacist by the Spedali Riuniti of Livorno. In the same year he travels to Venice for the first time and sees the works of Kandinsky and Klee. His first participation in a collective exhibition dates back to 1940.
During the following decade his attention shifted to the work of Rosai, Carrà, Sironi and De Chirico, with particular attention to metaphysical painting and some expressionist outcomes.
Arriving around 1947 to abstraction, in 1949 he held his first personal exhibition at the Libreria Salto in Milan. Following this exhibition is called to being part part of the Concrete Art Movement, along with Dorfles, Munari, Monnet and others. In 1951 his Pannelli a scacchi iterativi e simultanei were exhibited at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris. In 1952 his abstractionism, nourished by musical suggestions, abandons the orthogonal static and assumes the characteristic reticular and dynamic aspect, starting the work phase called Spazio totale.
In 1953 he exhibited his reticoli ritmici simultanei for the first time at exhibition venues in Milan, Turin and Florence. In 1954 he began to publish his writings in catalogues and bulletins, initially relating to the theme of Spazio totale. In 1957 he was present at the collective exhibition Fifty years of abstract painting in the world, organised in Paris by the Creuze Gallery by the artist Michel Seuphor.
In 1958 he abandoned his job as a pharmacist and moved to Milan. In 1960 he temporarily ceased to work due to a serious car accident, in which his nephew lost his life and Nigro himself suffered permanent physical damage. In 1964, thanks to the intercession of Lucio Fontana, he was invited for the first time to the Venice Biennale. In 1965 the work on the cycle called Tempo Totale has a turning point: its reticular plots are increasingly reduced to a series of lines that describe moments rather than places. From the rigour of the geometric project (fixed structures) then the 'chromatic licenses' emerge, in terms of the choice of colour and its emotional value. In 1968 he was invited to the XXXIV Venice Biennale with a personal exhibition in the Italian Pavilion, participating in the contestation that included the coverage of the artworks, the closing of the rooms and a protest in Piazza San Marco.
In 1975 the cycle of Tempo Totale matures, which gives rise to the series of 'Strutture fisse con licenza cromatica': a new lyrical and narrative freedom is reflected in the fixity of the geometric design underlying the design, composed of thin lines, in the use of colours.
From 1979 the artist shifts his interest on the environmental interactions between painting and architecture, and then moves towards the destruction of the line and its geometric construction in 1980, with the 'Terremoti' series. From this point the lines begin to be drawn freehand ('Orizzonti' series), then they break into a pointillist-way points, bigger and more gestural ('Orme'), which will develop into informal works (the series of 'Cipressi' and 'Dipinti Satanici').
Only in the nineties, with the series of acrylic Meditazioni and Strutture in ink, Nigro returns to construct the pictorial space in a geometric way, even if now by freehand. In 1992 he was awarded an award by the Camille Graeser Foundation for Constructive Art. The artist disappeared in Livorno on 12 August 1992. His paintings appear in the contemporary art museums of Rome, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Bologna, Livorno, Pistoia.
Text courtesy Dep Art Gallery.
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