The first survey exhibition of Gastone Biggi in New York shows a selection of some of the major works of one of Italy’s most celebrated artists. The show offers the opportunity to enjoy the artist’s work from moments across the five decades of his career.
Born in Rome in 1925, Gastone Biggi’s career has passed through some of the main developments of contemporary painting from the Fifties to the present time, not just managing to keep his pure and intense attitude, but also reacting in a personal way to the artistic issues and aesthetical tasks of his time. Since the end of the Forties Gastone Biggi managed to find a way to reconcile abstraction and realism, in a time when Rome became a melting pot for European Art Informel and American Abstract Expressionism, two specific references that he melted with the tradition of Italian art as represented by such artists as Giotto, Piero Della Francesca and Masaccio.
Recently, while describing the works he made for his one-man show at the 2009 Venice Biennale, he wrote: “Give me a dot and I will paint you the Universe”. Here his reference was directed to the research started in the early Sixties around the expressive potentialities of black and white dots, which he stretched in continuous lines across the whole space of the canvas (series of The Continuous of 1959-63 and of The variables of 1970-75). With these bases Gastone Biggi’s painting has always been characterized by a strong and dynamic attraction between figural tautness and dissolution of the image, between well-defined naturalism and structural fluidity, between spatial focus and a sudden loss of field of vision, as it is evident in the series of the Constellations (from 1991).
The dramatic effects of the brushstrokes and the poetical tension of each work create a paradoxical polarity that is typical of his art. In his works even the colors stress this tension creating heaps of shadow and ravishing apparitions as it can be seen in the Cycle of madness of 1988. In other series such as the Skies and the Fields (1978-88) the unfolding space in his paintings becomes a random field of fluid, multidirectional, unexpected apparitions. Filling his paintings with luxuriant colors and vibrant forms, Biggi works with a variety of styles and with different thematic series of works that reflects in the recent series of works dedicated to New York. Oozing a rhapsody of technical freedom and chromatic energy, this series shows the artist’s shifts in poetic register from the elegiac to the tragic, from the sensuality of natural forms to the contrasted beauty of the metropolis.
The existential and the spiritual, the imaginative and the realistic, the two and three-dimensional alternate in his body of work, making current the issue of the relationship between picture and reality. The proclivity for traditional procedures and the openness to the new spaces of painterly material are well justified as they give strength to freedom in choice of expressive language. The energy of Gastone Biggi’s works goes through and beyond the impersonality of many contemporary artistic practices and once again puts enduring art before the observer.