Turi Simeti, Alcamo, Sicily 1929 - 2021 Milan
A Black Oval, 1968
LiteratureA. Addamiano, in F. Sardella (ed.), Turi Simeti. Catalogo Ragionato, Milan 2017, p. 544, n. 230.
The Italian Spatialism and Zero group artist Turi Simeti had a particular affinity with the elipse. His distinctive approach to formalism in his work culminated in the motif of an oval protruding from beneath the surface of the canvas. Due to the minimalism of Simeti’s work and the focus on simple shapes, light and shadow play a critical role in the perception of his canvases.
‘The elliptical form reflects my nature. The oval is soft. In the area of the oval the surface gains an excitement, a vibrancy, the light gives it a depth’ – Turi Simeti, 2017.
Simeti’s canvases, particularly his dynamic geometric patterns, mirror the physical properties of relief, bringing the canvas into three-dimensionality. Through experimentation, he plays with depth and visual experience similarly to Fontana and other postwar Italian artists associated with the Zero movement.
Although many of his works depict patterns of ovals, in A Black Oval the viewer’s attention is directed to a single shape. This work features a black surface with an elevated and decentralised oval. The interplay of colour and form on a relatively small-scale canvas invites focus and undistracted engagement with the surface. His monochromatic abstraction imposes a kind of silent contemplation: as Simeti himself notes, ‘there are so many possibilities, and the light always acts independently of the colour of the work.’ Simeti’s works are generally monochromatic and produced in various colours, although typically, his black and white canvases are the most well-known. From the 1990s onwards, he expanded his oeuvre into increasingly intense colours, including yellow, green and red.
The influence of other post-war artists such as Manzoni, Bonalumi, and Fontana is evident in Simeti’s works. In 1965, his work was exhibited alongside other Zero artists in Fontana’s studio in Milan in an exhibition entitled ‘ZERO Avantgarde’. Over the decades, Simeti persisted with his minimalist approach. The unique elliptical motif he employed throughout his long career has become a distinctive feature of his works, lending them an instantly recognisable quality.