The art of Franco Cardinali is on display in Milan in an anthological exhibition at Palazzo dei Giureconsulti

Milan's Palazzo dei Giureconsulti is hosting the exhibition Franco Cardinali from January 11 to February 14, 2019. Necessary Restlessness.

Franco Cardinali. Inquietudine necessaria is the anthological exhibition that, from January 11 to February 14, 2019, pays homage to Franco Cardinali (Rapallo, 1926 - Vence, 1985) in the spaces of the Palazzo dei Giureconsulti in Milan, thirty years after the posthumous exhibition at theBrera Academy. The more than fifty works on display offer an overview of the production of the Ligurian artist, who was trained in the Parisian environment of Montparnasse as part of theÉcole de Paris, the large group of artists and intellectuals who worked in Paris between the wars. Cardinali was initially affected by Picasso and Modiglian influences, as revealed by the oil on canvas Enfant au jardin (1955) with its primitive forms, to evolve toward the informal and experimental currents of the 1970s, as curator Raffaella Resch points out, “in an autonomous and mature manner, with a sort of nomadism of styles, with a restlessness that also marks his entire existence.”

The artist, constantly searching for new techniques and forms of expression, lived and shared intensely the artistic ferments with the most original spirits of his time, then following an individual path with absolutely unique and peculiar outcomes. Friendships include his ties with Jean Cocteau, with whom he had correspondence, and with Jacques Prévert, who dedicated a poem to one of his paintings; he also met Pablo Picasso, from whom he was stimulated to work with ceramics. In the words of his famous friend Cocteau, just as in his own works an artist always expresses himself, in a kind of involuntary self-portraitisme, so in the production of the Ligurian-born painter, the French poet discerned Cardinali’s massive figure, “sa figure montagnarde de tailleur de pierre” (his mountainous figure of ’stone cutter’).

Artistically Cardinali then proceeds on a path from figurative, interpreted with strong tones and lines, to a material abstract inspired by the natural world, composed of environments, animals and symbolic elements of reality and his imagination. Franco Cardinali’s art is permeated with this “necessary restlessness,” as the title of the exhibition reveals: Indeed, in his works one can read a personal and artistic dissatisfaction that is evident in the deep hatching, restless landscapes-as in Fragments de cathédral (1983)-and the rippling of surfaces, as in Chant d’amour sur la falaise (1985), to express “his need for absolute and free self-determination,” says Resch, “in any time and with respect to any context; a freedom perceived as a furious need to follow the inspiration of the moment, because art according to Cardinali, in order to be authentic and personal, is nothing but inner confrontation with one’s own ghosts.”

Art for Franco Cardinali is a constant reflection, a permanent evolution, a continuous introspection, an endless work to perfect his own painting technique and message. He mixes traditional oil colors with earthy and clay materials to create thick, composite, lived-in surfaces that also reveal an intense and deep contact with nature. This gives rise to works on canvas such as Fossile lunaire (1967) in oil with sand and casein, or before that the oil Crustacés (1962), to Ancienne écriture (1982) in oil and sand, which depict curious and disturbing bestiaries as if they were fossils imprinted on the texture. The pictorial matter digs beyond the external dimension, goes beyond the canvas, and returns us to the world explored by Cardinali, in that subtle and ephemeral balance between art and life.

Organized by theFranco Cardinali Cultural Association in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Milan Monza Brianza Lodi, the exhibition highlights the poetics of an artist whose works belong to important public institutions and private collections in Italy, Europe and the United States, mostly in New York and Los Angeles. The exhibition enjoys the patronage of the UNESCO Club of Aquileia, the municipalities of Chiusi della Verna and Città di Castello, and theUnion of Artisans of the Province of Milan and the Province of Monza and Brianza.

Enriching the exhibition is a comprehensive bilingual Italian and English catalog published by Scalpendi Editore, which presents all the works in the exhibition as well as a rich selection of the artist’s production, with critical text by Raffaella Resch and a testimony by his friend Benito Boschetto.

Franco Cardinali was born in Liguria, Rapallo, in 1926 and moved to Paris in 1950. In ’53 he made his debut in Milan with a solo show at the Galleria San Babila, and two years later he exhibited with the artists of the Cité Vercingetorix, under the patronage of Jean Cocteau, with whom he established a solid friendship, and met Jacques Prévert: both promoted him in Parisian and French Riviera art circles. Cardinali then participated in the summers of 1955 and 1956 in the exuberant artistic activity of Vallauris and exhibited at the Charpentier Gallery in the École de Paris group, with works selected by Raymond Nacenta. He then met the great Pablo Picasso. He divided his time between Vallauris and Paris until 1968, when a deep need for solitude led him to retreat to Tuscany to a mountain village, La Rocca della Verna, where he built his house and studio and continued his research for twelve years. In November 1980, still torn by dissatisfaction, he left for a trip to the French Riviera to find his friend Jean Haechler, who would become his mentor and patron. He then settled in Saint Paul de Vence in 1982 and in December held a solo show in Nice, followed in February 1983 by Geneva, in March by Paris and in April by Sion, Switzerland. His last exhibition sees him in June with a solo show in Saint Paul de Vence. He committed suicide on April 12, 1985, at only 59 years of age.

Hours: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Free admission
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Pictured: Franco Cardinali, Fossil lunaire (1967), oil on canvas with sand and casein, 48x57 cm.

The art of Franco Cardinali is on display in Milan in an anthological exhibition at Palazzo dei Giureconsulti
The art of Franco Cardinali is on display in Milan in an anthological exhibition at Palazzo dei Giureconsulti

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