Ettore Spalletti, was and still is revered in Italy and celebrated abroad as the ‘painter of light’. Born in 1940 in Cappelle sul Tavo, the artist began his career when Arte Povera was revolutionizing visual culture in Italy and beyond. After completing his studies in scenography at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Rome, Spalletti started exploring geometric forms and simple materials, such as wood, plaster, canvas and stone - which he found being spiritually powerful and poetic. He was known for his art being called “Antiespressionista” or “Anti-Expressionist” – underlining his wish to remove from the work any possible psychological content or value recognisable as individual expression. Inspired by Renaissance frescoes of Masaccio and Piero della Francesca, from whom he borrowed the powdery blues and pinks, Spalletti employed subtle aspects of color and geometry to immerse the viewer in a full sensory experience.
Beginning around 1976, Spalletti made his luminous canvases and painted sculptures by working in a mode that was simultaneously classical and Minimalist. Favoring the impasto technique, the artist applied a mixture of pigments and chalk, which he typically added one thin layer around the same time every day for upwards of two weeks, before sanding down the surface to reveal a powdery, glowing plane of color. These lustrous hues covered not only traditional rectangular surfaces but also columns, floors, walls, and shaped supports.
Robilant+Voena is dedicated to the promotion of Italian Old and Modern Masters, and is the first gallery in London which promotes the now fashionable trend of cross-collecting. This exhibition is dedicated to Spalletti’s choice and use of simple forms methodically covered with his signature palette of gentle blues, greys and pinks. Instead of eliminating expressivity they evoke a serene, soothing and calm construction, like a Tiepoloesque sky or a Piero della Francesca background.
Spalletti has been the subject of major international exhibitions over the last decades, most recently at the Nouveau Musee National de Monaco (2019) and a three-part Italian retrospective housed in some of the country’s most distinguished institutions: MAXXI in Rome, the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina in Naples, and the Galleria di Arte Moderna in Turin (2014). His work has been featured in the Venice Biennale four times: Spalletti represented Italy in 1997 and was included in curated exhibitions in 1982, 1993, and 1995. He also appeared in Documenta twice, in both 1982 and 1992. Over the past forty years Spalletti’s works have been shown in solo exhibitions in Essen (Museum Folkwang, 1982), Ghent (Museum Van Hedendaagse Kunst, 1983), Rennes (Halles d’Art Contemporain, 1988), Frankfurt (Portikus, 1989), Munich (Kunstverein, 1989), Amsterdam (De Appel, 1989), Paris (Musée d’Art Moderne de the Ville de Paris, 1991), New York (Guggenheim Museum, 1993), Antwerp (Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, 1995), Strasbourg (Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, 1998), Naples (Museo di Capodimonte, 1999), Madrid (Fundación La Caixa, 2000), Leeds (Henry Moore Foundation, 2005), Rome (Académie de France, Villa Medici, 2006; Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, 2009), Kleve (Museum Kurhaus Kleve, 2009), Venice (Palazzo Cini, 2015). He has created two permanent installations of particular emotional impact: the Salle des dèparts, for the Hôpital Poincaré de Garches, Paris, in 1996, and the Cappella di Villa Serena in Città Sant’Angelo, Pescara, in 2016.