An exhibition in Venice on a forgotten artist of the 20th century, Giovanni Pontini

From Jan. 3 to Jan. 15, 2023, the Palazzo della Provvederia in Venice will host an exhibition dedicated to Giovanni Pontini, an artist active in the postwar period and one of the forgotten artists of twentieth-century art. On display is a nucleus of works from 1950 to 1970, the year of the artist's death.

The Palazzo della Provvederia presents Giovanni Pontini. Human Reality, an exhibition tracing the work of Venetian painter Giovanni Pontini (Venice, 1915 - 1970). The exhibition, scheduled from January 3 to 15, 2023, is curated by Amarilda Vokrri, in collaboration with The Pontini Collection and Matteo Mazzolato, the artist’s grandson. The exhibition dedicated to Pontini, hosted in the Palazzo della Provvederia, stems from the desire to pay homage to one of the exponents of Venetian figurative culture after World War II, filling the undeserved silence that has descended on his figure as an artist.

The exhibition reconstructs through 15 paintings, made between 1950 and 1970, the “journey” in Pontini’s art. The group of works in the exhibition testifies to the artist’s ability to lucidly interpret human reality, permeated with strong expressive objectification and extreme emotional intensity. Pontini’s cosmos is a synergy of forms, drama of bodies and contingencies of everyday life masterfully combined by a formal language that allows plastic consistency to human labors and values.

Pontini himself gives the best definition of his own modus operandi: “My ambition is to insert myself inside the life of simple man, to make work of poetry.” The approach to art for the Venetian painter is identified with the meaning of life: that simple man, protagonist of the world in which he lives every day, appears in Pontini’s canvases as the hero of his contemporaneity. Human adventure, often dramatic, is crucial in his artistic journey. Pontini’s figures, devoid of any form of idealization, bring to life the anguished pressure of a tormented society. Widely represented in the exhibition, then, is the interpretation of that reality connoted by bitter social conflicts: workers, fishermen, laborers-solemn and monumental figures-are developed in exaggerated and dilated forms that flow into Pontini’s existential realism.

“With great satisfaction space and light is given to an artist like Giovanni Pontini,” these are the words of Alderman Paola Mar. Giovanni Pontini. Human Reality is part of the cultural program Le città in festa, promoted by the City of Venice.

Giovanni Pontini manifested from childhood a very strong artistic vocation; free from all forms of academicism, he approached painting as a self-taught artist. After World War II he came into contact with the work of Ruoualt; he assimilated the master’s lesson with tact and discretion and broke into the Venetian environment with the expressive power of an artist with an innate poetic violence within him. From 1948 he began to exhibit his own works, without remaining a stranger to the stylistic influences of great artists such as Constant Permeke, Gino Rossi and Mario Sironi, but elaborating a very personal figurative language. Exhibitions follow one another: he takes part in the collective exhibitions of theOpera Bevilacqua La Masa, the Venice Biennale and the Quadriennale in Rome. He held numerous solo shows and participated in group exhibitions in Italy and abroad. Giovanni Pontini died in 1970, in Venice.

Pictured: Giovanni Pontini, Sleeping Reclining Figure (1957).

An exhibition in Venice on a forgotten artist of the 20th century, Giovanni Pontini
An exhibition in Venice on a forgotten artist of the 20th century, Giovanni Pontini

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