"From Alberto Pasini to Hans Richter: from Orientalist to Dada": An exhibition at Ponti Art Gallery

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"From Alberto Pasini to Hans Richter: from Orientalist to Dada": An exhibition at Ponti Art Gallery
Alberto Pasini, Busseto, 1826 – Cavoretto, 1899. Cafe with arcades in Beicos, Constantinople. Oil on canvas cm 28 x 37,5 signed, A Pasini, and dated 1869, lower left. © Ottocento Art Gallery.

ROME.- Ponti Art Gallery is offering important masterpieces coming from several private collections gathered in the usual monthly exhibition aimed to the sale. The selection starts from an oil painting, made by Alberto Pasini, in which the painter's eye stops to observe a coffee in Beicos, historic district of Constantinople, reached by the painter in 1869 aboard the train that would later be named Orient Express. The colors, the light, the situations and the moments stopped on the canvas tell a wonderful and contradictory East, poor and rich, dirty and sparkling. And because of all this, true. Pasini has never betrayed him, never accepted to compromise, loving him and perceiving it as a homeland of choice, making it be reborn in his paintings.

The further important artwork offered by Roman gallery is a painting depicted by Salvatore Balsamo. He trained in Naples following the teachings of Vincenzo Irolli, Giuseppe Casciaro and Eugenio Scorzelli, but he defined the stylistic canons through which he interprets the representation of landscapes and Neapolitan marine, prominent subjects in his repertoire, also contributing to the observation of the works by Nicolas De Corsi. This work is part of this last iconographic vein, characteristic of the best Balsamo production, probably made starting from the observation of a previous model, a painting executed in 1863 by the undisputed protagonist of the Posillipo school, Giacinto Gigante, resulting the painting presented here, the royal chapel of the treasure of San Gennaro, inside the cathedral of Naples. Balsamo portrays this extraordinary baroque liturgical environment most likely on the day dedicated to the celebration of the patron saint's feast.

The selection of the proposal displayed by Ponti Art Gallery continues with a wonderful bronze by Pietro Küfferle. The eternal idol embodies one of the most significant testimonies of Kufferle's symbolist sensitivity. The title, moreover identical to that of a work executed by the great Auguste Rodin at the end of the 19th century, charged with romantic suggestions a passionate theme like that of the exaltation of the eternal feminine. The raised position of the woman (almost as if she were on an altar) and the devout pose of the men, whose outlines emerge from the drape that covers the base, give a sacred value to the scene. The bronze seems to merge the sensual and angelic dimension of the woman (probably an iconographic reference to the famous biblical episode of Susanna and the Elders), not so much to polemicize or desecrate, as to look for the signs of a deeper dimension within reality, which it did not necessarily require a logical explanation.

The further important artworks offered by Roman gallery is an oil by Norman Prescott – Davies, a group of four tempera by Biagio Biagetti, first director of Vatican Museum, which show the history of the bread, a rural painting project by Amedeo Bocchi and a bronze by Franco Bargiggia dedicated to the theme of maternity.

Others important artwork dated to the first decades of the 20th century complete the exhibition: an oil by Mario Pucciarelli a work on paper by Alberto Burri and a double drawing by Hans Richter. Moving to Zurich, he joined the Dada movement and in 1917, after a brief expressionist period from which his visionary portraits originate, he began the first abstract experiments. It is to this particular experience that it is possible to trace the "Tête Dada", performed by the artist in 1918, the year in which he met the Swedish painter Viking Eggeling, starting a collaboration with him based on a common artistic research. The work offered by Ponti Art Gallery constitutes a reflection on the oval of the human face elaborated starting from the decomposition and fragmentation of the typical avant-garde shape. Richter, fascinated by the pictorial theme of the human head, will return there in the Sixties when he will make a series of grotesque and surreal portraits of some protagonists of the international Dadaist movement (Hugo Ball, Arp, Schwitters, Max Ernst, Huelsenbeck, Tristan Tzara, Janco, Serner, Marcel Duchamp) mixing them with anonymous faces, sometimes enlivened by witty or sculptural definitions.

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