Aldo ColÚ, reflection on form. About the Trieste exhibition

From December 11, 2019 to January 24, 2020, Trieste is hosting an exhibition dedicated to a 20th-century Friuli artist Aldo ColÚ (Modena, 1928 - Cividale del Friuli, 2015). It is entitled "Fragmenta" and its curator Francesca Agostinelli tells us about it in this contribution.

An exhibition of more than fifty canvases in the palace of the Regional Council of Friuli Venezia Giulia pays tribute to Aldo Colò, the “abstract,” “geometric” painter whose human and professional history is inscribed in postwar Friuli and accompanies the culture of the territory until 2015, when the painter, almost 90 years old, left us. Colò lives again in a selection of works that insist around one of his persistent figures, that oval that, born already in the 1960s, accompanied the artist’s intellectual reflection becoming an icon in which in 1980 Colò even inscribed his self-portrait. Ovals on a black or gray background, ovals containing bands or other geometric shapes, large ovals in garish colors or with a palette reduced to the minimum terms of color are exhibited, sometimes for the first time, on the walls of the second floor of Via Oberdan in Trieste, in the spaces surrounding the great hall of the Regional Council. They are canvases that recount the genesis of a form and its different compositional, formal and chromatic articulation over time until its deflagration that occurred at the end of the millennium, when the certainty of the achievements so far gave way to a fragmentation that would never again know mending or settling.

Aldo ColÚ, Tracce su quadrato nero (1972; tecnica mista su tela, 35 x 50 cm)
Aldo ColÚ, Traces on Black Square (1972; mixed media on canvas, 35 x 50 cm)

Aldo ColÚ, Senza titolo (1974; tecnica mista su tela, 35 x 50 cm)
Aldo ColÚ, Untitled (1974; mixed media on canvas, 35 x 50 cm)

Aldo ColÚ, Senza titolo (1980; tecnica mista su tela, 40 x 50 cm)
Aldo ColÚ, Untitled (1980; mixed media on canvas, 40 x 50 cm)

Aldo ColÚ, Senza titolo (1981; tecnica mista su tela, 92 x 73 cm)
Aldo ColÚ, Untitled (1981; mixed media on canvas, 92 x 73 cm)

But not only the works tell the story of the artist: on display are a series of photographs that Danilo De Marco took during the 1990s, on several occasions, at Colò’s workplaces: first in Ipplis, then in Premariacco.

In De Marco’s shots the painter is surrounded by his works, playing with his image and amusedly giving the photographer situations that lay bare that human substance that outside the officialdom of the professional world the painter reserved for his chosen friends. Thus the visitor can for the first time see the prints specially made by the photographer by recovering in the archives the negatives of the time, restoring on silver salt paper a rare material density that is difficult to find in contemporary photography.

Colò’s portraits are accompanied in the exhibition by the poetry of Elio Bartoliniwho, also in the 1990s, wrote for his friend a piece that in its title sounds like a dedication: Pa la piture di Aldo. Perhaps among the most effective texts to express the man, his work and the feeling that the figure of Colò represented in the artistic context of this ’then’ so close, Bartolini wrote the capacity of his geometries to tell the world by analogy, softly, without clamor, but in the clear theology of "un piturâ/ che a j baste la sô veretât e vonde. " A painting that deserved the affection and esteem of his fellow travelers.

To enrich the point of view of the exhibition, the showcases contain some autographed texts by the painter, who accompanied the years of his life with reflections that he jotted down daily on papers that are now witnesses of his poetic and literary scope, of his attention to the themes of art and the problems of the world.

From these papers, taken from the painter’s archive and largely unexplored, Colò drew material for the creation of "Fragmenta," a nimble little volume that allows us to look at the artist in the depths of his thoughts.

Fragmenta is also the title of the exhibition, which intends in its name to recall the interest that moves the initiative and the intention to combine the master’s theoretical reflection with his work as well as the extraordinary context in which the painter found himself working and living, accompanied by central figures of the cultural system of which he was a living part: Intellectuals such as Elio Bartolini, Tito Maniacco, Luciano Morandini, and Amedeo Giacomini dedicated poems and texts to the master Colò that remain as evidence of the esteem that surrounded him.

Supporting the exhibition is a catalog with texts by Francesca Agostinelli and architect Giovanni Vragnaz, accompanied by the final version of Elio Bartolini’s poem, which the author arrived at in 2005.

Aldo ColÚ. Fotografia di Danilo De Marco
Aldo ColÚ. Photograph by Danilo De Marco