Superficie bianca, 1970
Signed, titled and dated 1970 on the stretcher
Acrylic on shaped canvas
104 x 120 cm / 41 x 47.3 in
Milan, Galleria dell'Ariete;
Rome, Galleria del Cortile.
Robilant+Voena, Italian Neo-Renaissance, Bonalumi, Scheggi, New York, 5-28 May 2015.
In 1959, together with Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani founded the art gallery Azimut and a magazine called Azimuth. Also part of the artistic groups ZERO and NUL, between December 1959 and July 1960, Galleria Azimut presented thirteen exhibitions, including Castellani’s first solo exhibition, and the important group show “La nuova concezione artistica” (The New Artistic Conception). Castellani dedicated himself to experimenting with different methods, using nails under a stretched-out canvas to form a sort of dance between light, angles and shadows; a technique that would later become his signature style. Castellani and Manzoni’s joint projects in 1959–60 established Milan as an important centre of activity for ZERO, a rapidly expanding international network of artists committed to redefining art and engaging light, space, time, and movement.
From 1963 to 1970 he exhibited at a number of different galleries throughout Europe. It was also between these years that surface poetry began to give way to the subject with Castellani’s attention changing its focus to study more on the formal articulations of the surface with his canvases becoming shaped, angular, diptychs and triptychs. In 1966 he won the Gollin prize at the Venice Biennale.
This hexagonal canvas, realised by Castellani in 1970, is a rare work (there should only be two or three examples in this geometric format in existence) and presents an extremely interesting surface. A thousand readings can be found from a number of different angles and in different lights, and what appears is a universe in which to lose oneself, sharing the artist's obsession of impressing rhythm on the canvas. The lower part, not by chance, appears free from "dotting" and there is a multiplicity of special effects to be found, in accordance with a progression that accelerates its rhythm towards the centre, or else towards the outer limits of the surface. The play of light and dark unfolds, finding an interval in the space devoid of nails, just as in a musical score that demands a lengthy pause. Even without direct light, Castellani's canvases reveal their universe in full, calmer, less rich in contrasts, but equally vitalised by the movement of the nails. A place in which to project one's own thoughts or, simply, to allow oneself to remain in the uncertainty of being able to discover all the rhythmic solutions that the canvas can offer you.
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