The Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz is presenting the anthological exhibition of the Italian artist Mario Nigro (Pistoia 1917 - Livorno 1992), a leading protagonist of the 20th century. This retrospective exhibition curated by Ingrid Mössinger and Francesca Pola, made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Archivio Mario Nigro in Milan, examines his research work from 1952 until 1992, twenty years after his death.
The exhibition layout permits grasping the complexity and the novelty of Mario Nigro's work by means of a selection of thirty-two works that constitute the first retrospective exhibition to be presented in Germany following the catalogue raisonné, edited by Germano Celant and published by Skira in 2009.
Mario Nigro created new visual languages in the later post-war period which opened his work to embrace an international perspective by way of a continuous analysis of the complex systems of paintings. As Francesca Pola writes: "His radical and fundamental position had matured as early on as the close of the 1940s, during that same period in which parallel definitions were achieved in the form of Alberto Burri's matteric investigation, Lucio Fontana's pluridimensional and experimental Spatialism, Giuseppe Capogrossi's unmistakable sign and the free gestuality on the part of Emilio Vedova".
"Nigro choose to once again start out from the origins of non-objective experience", creating an artistic vision that came close to "the very breathing of existence - not in descriptive but in universal terms - in order to give life to images capable of interpreting the drama of contemporary existence, made up of the continuity of relations and the absences of confines and borderlines". His constant and coherent visual language is characterised by "a poetic of inventive and cognitive continuity which underlies all of his artist production" of which the works on exhibit exemplify its evolutionary iter.
In the first of the museum's four large exhibition spaces the visitor finds works which the artist exhibited in the room dedicated to him at the XXXIV Venice Biennale of 1968 where he presented three-dimensional wall and floor works, from amongst which "Dallo spazio totale 1954: 4 colonne prismatiche a progressioni ritmiche simultanee (passaggio psicologico)" ("From Total Space 1954: 4 Prismatic Columns in Simultaneous Rhythmic Progressions [Psychological Passage]"), 4 elements of 284x28x28 cm each, "Dal tempo totale: traliccio a rombi progressivi simultanei" ("From Total Time: Lattice with Progressive Simultaneous Rhombi") (46,5x293 cm) and "Le stagioni" ("The Seasons"), 4 elements of 300x12 cm each.
Also exhibited in the same room are five canvases of the "Incontro" ("Encounter") series (200x200 cm each) which form part of the cycle entitled "Tempo totale" ("Total Time"), exhibited at the X Quadriennale in Rome in 1973.
These works investigate the psychological dynamics of human relations inside the real space of life. Also presented in the same room there is the work titled "Dalla metafisica del colore: i concetti strutturali elementari geometrici, Ettore e Andromaca" ("From the Metaphysics of Colour: Elementary Geometric Structural Concepts, Hector and Andromache"), 10 elements of 178x68 each, formerly presented at the XXXVIII Venice Biennale. With this work on canvas Nigro evokes the relationship between primary emotions and human sentiments by way of the simple unfolding of the line in the background in order "to visualise the amorous sentiment, sacrifice and farewell of one of the most celebrated scenes of the classical epopee".
The second room presents the works belonging to the cycle entitled "Pannelli a scacchi" ("Panels with Checks") including "Scacchi" ("Checks") of 1952 (146x116 cm), characterised by the perspective series of optical-perceptive meshes to which the artist gives movement, from both the structural and chromatic points of view and with evident reference to the neo-plastic grids by Piet Mondrian and to the interpretation of the relationship between colour and emotion in the abstract expressionist key by Wassily Kandinsky. Also exhibited in this room is the work titled ""Pittura: fuga" ("Painting: Fugue") (...) is explicitly inspired by the patterns of Bach's music of which he intends to propose a visual and spatial correspondence. (...) Music is a constitutive and constructive element, not purely evocative or exterior, in the genesis of Nigro's non-objective complex vision: his aim is to transpose its structures into a painting that it is a new future space in which the chromatic-constructive progressions unfold like human actions and relationships between individuals".
By 'maintaining a dialogue' with the works forming part of the "Spazio totale" ("Total Space") cycle such as "Spazio totale: variazioni divergenti, simultaneità drammatiche" ("Total Space: Divergent Variations, Dramatic Simultaneities") of 1954-1956 (121x150 cm), and "Spazio totale: strutture" ("Total Space: Structures") of 1953-1956 (115x146 cm), these works by way of a complex construction and structural procedure investigate the existence of diverse degrees of reality and different dimensions with reference both to relativistic science and to the tragic nature of the future of existence. In this way the works define a new space, one intrinsically bound to the analysis of the historical situation of that period, giving "life to an all-over development which does not limit itself to staying on the surface but that intends to penetrate - and in depth - all of the possible directions of painted space as an investigation of the possible relations of the cosmos".
The third room exhibits the works belonging to the "Spazio totale" cycle such as "Spazio totale: divergenze simultanee drammatiche" ("Total Space: Simultaneous Dramatic Divergences") of 1954-1959 (162x127 cm) and "Dallo spazio totale: reticolo nero su variazione cromo-ottica" ("From Total Space: Black Reticulation on Chromo-Optical Variation") of 1954-1961 (161x115 cm) in which the tonality of the ground is characterised by the spreading of a sole colour which would later lead to the creation of the three-dimensional and environmental works of the 1960s. A section of the exhibition also focuses on original documents including writings, invitations, posters and catalogues which cover the history of Mario Nigro's artistic career.
The exhibition concludes with works of the 1980s which belong to the "Ritratti" ("Portraits") and "Dipinti satanici" ("Satanic Paintings") cycles. We can mention "Da i ritratti: ritratto di un dipinto" ("From the Portraits: Portrait of a Painting") of 1988 (218x208 cm) and "Da i dipinti satanici: lotta" ("From the Satanic Paintings: Struggle") of 1989 (218x207 cm), characterised by their intensely lit colours that always have the intention of bringing the "changes of the world" onto the canvas. The continuous evolution of this creative process leads us to the opening years of the 1990s with the creation of the cycle entitled "Strutture" ("Structures"), two of which are exhibited in the fourth room: "6 strutture" ("6 Structures") of 1991 (203x97 cm); and "25 strutture" ("25 Structures") of 1992 (205x110 cm) that by way of the use of spaced out chromatic signs give a new universal dimension by rendering them "places of absolute vision which appear to write a future space: one to be found between science fiction and antimatter".
Museum am Theaterplatz
Chemnitz 09111 DeutschlGermany
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