In Gualtieri an unprecedented confrontation between Ligabue and contemporary figurative artists

On display in Gualtieri is an unprecedented comparison of works by Antonio Ligabue with those of eleven contemporary figurative artists.

From May 8 to November 14, 2021, the Antonio Ligabue Museum Foundation of Gualtieri (Reggio Emilia) presents at Palazzo Bentivoglio the exhibition Ligabue, the rediscovered figure. 11 contemporary artists compared, curated by Nadia Stefanel and Matteo Galbiati. A new body of Ligabue’s works, selected by Francesco Negri, will be in dialogue with works by eleven contemporary artists from a predominantly figurative field. The artists involved are Evita Andùjar, Mirko Baricchi, Elisa Bertaglia, Marco Grassi, Fabio Lombardi, Juan Eugenio Ochoa, Michele Parisi, Ettore Pinelli, Maurizio Pometti, Giorgio Tentolini, and Marika Vicari.

The curators invited these eleven to confront specially chosen works by Antonio Ligabue, where the figure, at first characterized by a precise connotation, is subsequently subjected to extreme synthesis, until it dissolves into color. For the first time, Palazzo Bentivoglio’s Salone dei Giganti will host an unprecedented dialogue between the master from Gualtieri and contemporary artists in order to testify how, even in today’s topical languages, there is a similar transcendent spirit and an equal centrality of reflection placed on man, his feeling and being in the world.

“The project was born from the encounter between Antonio Ligabue and eleven contemporary artists,” explains Nadia Stefanel. “Between an artist who united art and life so closely that it is difficult to untangle the junction, who created works always on the edge of imagination and with only the need to paint in order to exist, and the contemporaneity of today’s art. Those who saw him paint were strongly impressed by the freedom and confidence of execution without regret or hesitation, a modus operandi instinctively guided by a rich visionary imagination, which led him to immediate figurative realization, without preliminary sketches. Ligabue possessed the wisdom of modulating color to recreate those forms belonging to a nomadic and solitary journey, his own, but he also looked at nature with sincere admiration and a limpid gaze, to ultimately find shelter from the attacks of the world in the meticulous beauty of the details of his animals, in the coats of his beasts, in the impalpable plumage of birds of prey, in the forms described anatomically by color.”

“The choice of these artists looks at the specificity of their research, which, without conditioning or choice of occasion, has always placed the essence of their vision precisely on the soul as the center of value for their aesthetic experiences,” added Matteo Galbiati. “The theme and concept of the figure represented is the means to go beyond the immediacy of the visible account and let the tension and passion of images that transfigure common and shared experiences surface. Their language consecrates the power of imagination that can guide the gaze of each viewer far beyond the singularity of the specific narrative and makes each work a wide-open threshold to the sincerity of human pathos. In this sense Ligabue does not relive in them, he is not a cue for a ”recopying,“ but in them he continues the ideal of involvement of the other, the connection of reality with an elsewhere dense with mystery and all its trepidatious hope.”

Sixteen paintings by Ligabue, many of which have never been exhibited in recent years, and about 30 works by the contemporary artists involved, most of them previously unpublished, will be on display.

The exhibition will unfold in two sections: the first around the epidermal, carnal and physical energy of color and its realization through making itself concrete in painting; the second emphasizes the transfiguring power of art, which captures the image at the instant it becomes memory, dream, miracle, apparition, fixing it before its inexorable disappearance.

Between concreteness and levity, the narrative of this exhibition reproposes not only the most iconic aspect of Ligabue, but also intends to retrace his disruptive and sensitive humanity, capable of finding in his spontaneity the farsightedness of a feeling far deeper than that which emerges from a superficial appearance. Through the eleven artists it is intended to propose another way of reading Ligabue’s man and environment.

The exhibition is promoted by the Municipality of Gualtieri and the Antonio Ligabue Museum Foundation, and is organized in collaboration with the Emilia-Romagna Region and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Reggio Emilia Pietro Manodori, with contributions from the Members of the Antonio Ligabue Museum Foundation-Emilbanca (main sponsor), Landi Renzo, Boorea, Coopservice, Padana Tubi and Apart Art Advisory. The catalog published by Vanillaedizioni will include texts by the curators and a rich iconographic apparatus. The explanatory panels that accompany the visit, introducing the researches of contemporary artists, as well as the cards in the catalog, are made by the students of the “Didactics of Artistic Languages” course (prof. Matteo Galbiati) of the SantaGiulia Academy of Fine Arts of Brescia.

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Image: Antonio Ligabue, Self-portrait (1951-1952; oil on faesite panel, 60 x 53 cm). Courtesy Municipality of Gualtieri

In Gualtieri an unprecedented confrontation between Ligabue and contemporary figurative artists
In Gualtieri an unprecedented confrontation between Ligabue and contemporary figurative artists

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