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Ottocento Art Gallery opens exhibition of important masterpieces
Alberto Biasi (Padova 1937), Visual dynamics, relief in PVC on painted panel cm 120 x 120 signed (Alberto Biasi) on the back.© Ottocento Art Gallery.



ROME.- Ottocento 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 the masterpiece by Arturo Martini. Narrator for images, Arturo Martini was commissioned in 1937 to sculpt the high relief for the Palace of Justice in Milan (architect M. Piacentini), on the theme of Corporate Justice, to be placed side by side with Biblical Justice and Roman Justice, respectively by Arturo Dazzi and Romano Romanelli. The sculptor from Treviso faced the subject – arduous and with insidious current implications – with the usual iconographic and technical freedom: the Carrara marble was folded to a pictorial use, with different lighting effects on the surfaces now blanked now polished, while the celebratory theme it was transformed into a metaphor for civilization: justice oversees social coexistence and harmonizes human relationships, on which the family and works of charity are based.

The relief, which inaugurated Moretti’s long collaboration with the Nicoli company in Carrara, was placed in the palace in September 1938. The Carrarese effort earned Martini a serious form of sciatica, which forced him to a long recovery spent in Burano: it was then that he approached painting, hoping for a new, and perhaps easier, career. When Martini begins to think of painting as a way out of monumental sculpture, a series of works dedicated to painters and painting also appear, such as this “portrait-caricature” (perhaps identifiable with Arturo Tosi) offered by Ottocento Art Gallery, in which the artist is caught in a moment of painting en plein air, the canvas resting on a tree trunk, in the act of transferring the immediacy of nature onto the picture, with a snap and an act typical of the more traditional and stereotypical concept of the painter. The compositional fact in itself is interesting, with the calls of the legs and arms spread apart and parallel and the precarious balance of the whole. Just from 1938, the year of execution of the sculpture presented here, Martini turned to painting with growing expectations: given in February 1940, in the halls of the Milanese Barbaroux gallery, his first painting exhibition, received with interest and good sales success.

The selection of the proposal displayed by Ottocento Art Gallery continues with a wonderful painting by Francesco Gamba. In 1853, P. Giuria, art critic and landscape painter, inserted Gamba alongside the artists of his generation, within that new “Piedmontese school” of the landscape, far from the conventions of academic art, directly inspired by “open air, to the aspect of living nature” and, at the same time, distant from an exclusively mimetic approach of the natural datum. Within this interpretative framework at Gamba the merit of having renewed “the genre of the seapainting […] meditated on the truth” was recognized. However, Giuria did not forget to mention Panorama di Torino (1852) and Panorama of Moncalieri towards the west (1853: Agliè, castle), works purchased by Queen Mother Maria Theresa of Habsburg Lorraine as representative of Gamba’s painting. Just the Panorama of Turin mentioned by Giuria can be identified in the painting offered by Ottocento Art Gallery, in which a meticulous topographic view of the Savoy city taken from the eighteenth-century Villa Barbaroux, is dominated by the profile of the church of Santa Maria al Monte dei Cappuccini. The church, built on the foundations of an ancient fortress designed by Giacomo Soldati modified by Ascanio Vitozzi, marks the symbolic value of the policy of alliances made by the Savoy with religious orders between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The further important artworks offered by Roman gallery are masterpiece by Mario Schifano, Achille Vianelli, Luigi Preatoni, Giacomo Balla, Ferruccio Vecchi and Alberto Biasi,. In particular, the visual dynamics presented by Ottocento Art Gallery falls within the cycle of Optical-dynamic Reliefs, the maximum expression of the definition of the sense of poetics characterizing Biasi’s artistic research in the 1960s. The works created between 1960 and 1967, on which the artist returns on several occasions even in the following years, introduce, in fact, for the first time the question of the role of the observer. These are, for the most part, works composed of two overlapping floors spaced a few centimeters apart, where the level below is generally made up of a painted table, while the one above is constructed as a pattern of strips (or strips) of PVC. The interference between the two floors creates that optical effect of movement that Biasi calls “virtual dynamism”. What happens, in fact, is that the perfectly immobile work manages to generate an impression of vibrant motility in the user. In reality, it is the spectator’s retinal and cognitive activity that builds those movements, which are precisely virtual, and not physical.










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