25 works by Francesco Tabusso exhibited at Spazio Ersel in Milan

Through July 5, the Ersel space in Milan is dedicating an exhibition to Francesco Tabusso, featuring the artist's production from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s.

Ersel is hosting in its exhibition spaces in Milan the exhibition Francesco Tabusso. Landscape with Fairy Tales curated by Marco Sobrero and Archivio Francesco Tabusso with critical text by Elena Pontiggia. The exhibition opens to the public from June 7 to July 5, 2024 at Ersel’s headquarters at 16 Via Caradosso in Milan.

There are 25 works on display: a comprehensive selection of the artist’s production from the mid-1950s, immediately after his exhibition debut at the Venice Biennale, to the late 1990s.

Back in 2019 Elena Pontiggia wrote: “Francesco Tabusso was one of the most intense landscape painters of the second half of the twentieth century. He was, indeed, one of the painters who most kept alive the theme of landscape, which modern art has often considered nineteenth-century and outdated.” And it is precisely the landscape, which for Tabusso is the background of his pictorial stories, the setting of his colorful theater, that is the great protagonist of this exhibition.

Opening the exhibition are “the informal” Green Landscape of 1956 (pictured) and The Six Hunters, a large composition inspired by Flemish painter Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow. The path continues into the 1960s and 1970s, marked by the artist’s passionate dialogue with past masters, made explicit, as well as in a number of tribute works, in actual pictorial cycles. On display here, for example, are Grünewald on his way to Isenheim, one of about 35 paintings dedicated to the great sixteenth-century German master Matthias Grünewald; Homage to Baschenis, the Bergamasque master inventor of the still life with a musical subject; and again The People from Giacomo Ceruti, also part of another substantial pictorial cycle dedicated to the eighteenth-century Lombard master.

Tabusso’s painting is immersed in the natural environment: the snow-capped peaks of his beloved Val di Susa, the Tuscan hills traversed by the curves of roads marked by cypress trees, the spring light on a meadow of wild flowers. He recounted in an interview in the 1980s, “I need to know precisely the various types of grass I paint, to know the composition of the stones I bring back to the canvas. [...] I’ve been going up to the studio for a long time to read up on minerals, plants, flowers and fossils. I read botanical treatises and try to reconstruct here the habitat of some algae that fascinate me. I need to know deeply what I am going to paint. Before I give the first stroke of the brush, sometimes months go by.”

Not missing from the exhibition is a reference to the most intense work of sacred art created by Tabusso, housed precisely in Milan in the Church of San Francesco al Fopponino, designed by Gio Ponti in the late 1960s: it is the pictorial cycle the Canticle of Creatures, composed of the monumental altarpiece made in 1975, 12 meters by 8 meters high - the largest religious-themed canvas made in Italy - and the 8 triptychs that adorn the nave and illustrate the Simple Prayer of the Saint of Assisi.

The anthological exhibition itinerary has privileged works from private collections tracked down during the work of cataloguing the paintings, acquired fifty to sixty years ago and remaining the property of the families themselves, precisely because of their particular value not only artistic and market, but affective and human.

As Elena Pontiggia points out in the critical text, "There is something, in Tabusso’s best results, that is not easily found in the world of contemporary art: an irenic, childlike accent, in which evil is not frightening, the present does not generate anxiety and the smallest things seem to suddenly become important. As happens, precisely, in fairy tales. In the clothespins laid on the clothesline like notes on the line of a pentagram; in the figures that look like fruits among the trees; in the lands, the hills, the houses that float in a sea of mist, as swallows fly through the clouds, there is a life that does not exist, that has never existed. But it lives, forever, in Tabusso’s painting.

For all information, you can visit the official website of Archivio Francesco Tabusso.

25 works by Francesco Tabusso exhibited at Spazio Ersel in Milan
25 works by Francesco Tabusso exhibited at Spazio Ersel in Milan

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