Italian painter Gianfranco Zappettini was a leading proponent of the Pittura Analitica movement founded in the 1970s, in which paintings analytically focused on the medium in and of itself.Read More
Gianfranco Zappettini studied at the Liceo Artistico Niccolò Barabino of Genoa and the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara at the start of his career and was involved in skyscraper designs for the regeneration of Genoa's port as assistant to the German architect Konrad Wachsmann, developing an interest in structural research, visual order, geometry, and meticulous precision.
Gianfranco Zappettini's early paintings were made in the early 1960s. He cultivated his burgeoning interest in European abstraction with a trip to Paris between 1971 and 1972, visiting the studios of Sonia Delaunay and Alberto Magnelli, and becoming at odds with the then-popular Arte Povera movement adhered to by his Genoa contemporaries. During this time he befriended the German artist Winfred Gaul and the critic Klaus Honnef, who invited him in 1971 to be part of the Arte Concreta exhibition (Concrete Art was originally founded in 1930 by Theo van Doesburg) at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster, featuring Lucio Fontana and Bruno Munari, amongst others. The show stimulated Zappettini, who, along with Honnef and Winfred Gaul, mapped out a theory on 'Analytical Painting' (Pittura Analitica).
Gianfranco Zappettini's writings, published in Flash Art, Kunstforum International, and other publications, expounded upon a concern with the grammatical elements of painting: surface, method, colour, canvas, frame, and material. There was a belief in the painting itself and the steps in its compositional development, so his works reflected an obedience to process and industrial (construction site) materials. Zappettini's 'bianchi' (whites) series (1973–1976) presented an ostensibly white canvas, applied with rollers to avoid traces of the hand, with an undercoat of black.
After his inclusion in documenta 6 (1977), Zappettini then retreated from the art world at a time when painting was undergoing a 'renaissance' with the emergence of Neo-Expressionism. His reassessment of analysis and concern with process led him to develop an interest in Eastern philosophies, spending time in the 1980s travelling between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. His contemporary work (over the last two decades) is informed by these experiences and explores the tenets of Taoism, Zen, and Sufism with a palette of different colours (among which gold)—now alluding to the metaphysical meaning of painting (his earlier work had no symbolic content). In 2003 he established the Fondazione Zappettini.
Gianfranco Zappettini's exhibitions have been staged at Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (1975), Internationaal Cultureel Centrum, Antwerp (1978), Richard Koh Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2017), Palazzo Reale, Genoa (2018), Standing Pine, Nagoya (2019); amongst other locations.
Selected group shows include Abstraction Analytique, Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1978), Linee della ricerca artistica in Italia, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma (1980); Pittura Analitica, Primo Marella Gallery, Milan (2015); Light in Motion – Balla, Dorazio, Zappettini, Mazzoleni London (2017).
Biography by Cleo Roberts | Ocula | 2020