The London branch of Turin's renowned Mazzoleni Art gallery is doing what it does best this summer – dedicating its walls to significant post-war Italian painters. Tomorrow, along with carefully sought archival memorabilia that has never been seen before in the UK, 14 proponents of the Pittura Analitica movement go on display, side-by-side.
The exhibition includes an impressive array of works from the 1970s, including pieces by Carlo Battaglia, Vincenzo Cecchini and Enza Cacciola. These artists in part made up the ambitious group, which wanted to 'repossess the language of painting', international curator Alberto Fiz explains. They aimed to throw away the rule book, taking painting law into their own hands, analysing it every step of the way.
As pioneering as they were, they were an introspective bunch, and documented their processes thoroughly. Today, they are known for their impassive, abstract works. Gianfranco Zappettini, for example, painted a number of black canvasses entirely white in 1973, forming the well-known 'white paintings' series – examples of which are included today at Mazzoleni Art.
As part of their new grammar of painting, the analysts shunned the use of 'traditional' materials (brushes, pencils, canvas) preferring to branch out into more industrial, craft-based tools: cement, elastic bands and paint rollers. The use of these materials can be seen throughout the gallery, in the acrylic colour blocks and stark grid-works, to the flannel canvasses and woven elastic wall hangings.
Fiz hails the group as the 'saviors of modern Italian painting'. They reclaimed the medium as a contemporary communicator, with something interesting to say. 'The Pittura Analitica movement was a silent revolution,' he explains. 'Painting was no longer conceived as a goal but as the repossession of a language. The group allowed painting to overcome a crisis that appeared irreversible.'
Mazzoleni Art, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, chose its London outpost for the exhibition. Although lacking in the immediate grandeur of Turin's Palazzo Panizza (where Mazzoleni's headquarters sprawls over three floors), the London gallery was established exactly with exhibitions like this in mind – extending the reach of post-war Italian artists and drumming-up international intrigue in this period of Italy's art history.