“Mario Schifano and Pop Art in Italy”

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In Lecce, baroque temple, the canvases of the most important contemporary art authors of the second half of the twentieth century land.
Italy has also had its Pop Art. And whoever wants to find it can do so by visiting the exhibition “Mario Schifano and Pop Art in Italy” until October 23 at the Charles V Castle in Lecce. On display are the canvases of four artists that marked the history of Italian and international art from the second-twentieth century, forming Rome at the so-called ‘Piazza del Popolo School’. These are Franco Angeli, Giosetta Fioroni, Tano Festa and Mario Schifano. The motives and objects of the common imagination, from the history of art to everyday life, in these canvases take the form of abstract experience or pass through concepts such as mass society, the characteristics of the metropolitan city, the union of artistic genres and new languages, at the same time as what was happening on the other side of the ocean, in America.

The path to the castle is part of the work of Franco Angeli, which, following the archaeologist’s experience in the 1970s, has its most flourishing period reproducing and reinventing the past, with large canvases recalling swastika, or the obelisk of People’s Square or even US Dollars. Simple, easy-to-understand symbols, but also appeal to power and violence, from scythe and hammer to real eagles. Paintings where the fears of a past that can’t be forgotten and whose traces still feel, come alive in the midst of starving skies, invoke imagination, poetry, hope.
The “Liberty in Geometry” of 1969, by Giosetta Fioroni, is one of the strong pieces of the exhibition. A painted silver woman, daughter of industrial colors, stands out on a geometric background. Eyes that charm, controversial like those of the famous Valentina of Crepax. The advertising imagery of the age, the poetics and sensuality of women, their faces, their lips, even the hats, are at the center of the work of the only woman of the ‘School of the People’s Square’, survived to his fellow men and still alive. His canvases in 2013 were also exhibited at the New York Drawing Center. ‘Giosetta Fioroni, Silver’ was the title of the exhibition in the USA, then re-designed in Rome, where works on canvas and paper were collected, from 1956 to 1976, along with some 1967 videos.
The “Blue Persian” by Tano Festa, is the color concentrate that takes visitors in the third room of the castle. The symbol of the historic towns and villages of Italy, the Persian, becomes a work of art. An open window on a world of colors, from orange to green, for a poetic intervention that makes it a unique piece.
Finally, the triumph of colorful temples, for Mario Schifano’s “Aquatic”, where the references to the nature and technique of squeezing colors from the tempera tube directly to the canvas, without brushes, are summed up. A technique that manages to give to the work three-dimensionality and hypothesizes the visitor.

Interesting and iconic is the picture ‘Futurism Revised’, which rephrases in Pop Art the historical photography portraying the founders of the Futurist group Luigi Russolo, Carlo Carrà, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini. No appearance but only contours, for a canvas that expresses the historical and symbolic value of a period of the twentieth century that Schifano wants to keep imprinted in memory.
The exhibition is curated by Luca Barsi and Lorenzo Madaro, promoted by Theutra and Oasimed, in collaboration with Galleria Accademia di Torino, with the patronage of the Municipality of Lecce and the support of Axa Cultura Lecce.

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