Together with Bonalumi, Scheggi, and Manzoni, Enrico Castellani was a leading figure in the spatialist movement heralded by the revolutionary work of Lucio Fontana. Though trained as an architect, the young Castellani soon turned to art. In December 1959, Castellani and Manzoni opened a gallery in Milan called Azimut, as well as launching a magazine with the same name. Though short-lived, these ventures played a significant role in the redefinition of art in Milan in this critical period. As for his work, just as Fontana broke new ground by slashing his canvases with a knife, Castellani's weapons of choice were nails, which he drove into the frames underlying his canvases at varying depths to achieve rhythmic patterns of indentations and protrusions and then painted in a range of monochrome hues. Called Superfici (Surfaces), these became Castellani's signature works. Hovering somewhere in between painting and sculpture in their three-dimensionality, Castellani's Superfici have been compared to lunar landscapes, and it is perhaps no coincidence the first photos of the cratered surface of the moon were sent back to earth by Ranger 7 in July of 1964. Such contemporary references mingle with more traditional ones, as the intense contrasts of light and shadow in Castellani's works can be associated with the painterly chiaroscuro of Italian Baroque painting.
Text courtesy Robilant+Voena.
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