Mario Schifano

Mario Schifano was born in Homs, Libya, in 1934. He is the most important Italian Pop artist. His debuts are within the informal culture with canvases of high material thickness, gestural and marked by some dripping.

In 1960, on the occasion of the exhibition he held at the Galleria La Salita in Rome, in the company of Angeli, Festa, Lo Savio and Uncini, he caught the eye of the critics. In the space of a few years Schifano’s culture changed radically.

He abandoned the informal experience and began to paint monochrome pictures, large papers glued onto canvas and covered with a single, tactile, dripping colour. The painting becomes a screen, a point of departure, a space for a denied event in which, a few years later, figures, letters and fragments of consumer civilisation, such as the Esso and Coca Cola brands, would emerge.

In 1962 he travelled to the United States where he came into contact with Pop Art and was struck by the work of Warhol, Dine and Kline and exhibited at the Sidney Gallery in New York in the exhibition “The New Realist”. In 1964 he participated in the Venice Biennale.

He then began to paint his anaemic landscapes, a series of canvases in which the natural world is evoked on the thread of memory through fragments, details and allusive writings.

In the 1970s he began to reproduce certain television images directly on emulsified canvas, isolating them from the narrative rhythm of the sequences to which they belonged and re-proposing them with touches of nitro colour in an alienating function.

In 1971 he participated in the Quadriennale in Rome. He was invited again to the Venice Biennale in 1978, 1982 and 1984.

Landscapes, water lilies, wheat fields, movements of the sea and expanses of sand are recreated, reinvented, filtered through memories, impulses and sensations. He died in Rome in 1998.

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