On Monday 25 September, Galleria Tega opens a major exhibition titled Osvaldo Licini. Signs of the Angel, featuring works by Osvaldo Licini, one of the true protagonists of Italian art in the 20th century. As a tribute to the artist born at Monte Vidon Corrado in 1894, who passed away in 1958, a few months after receiving the International Grand Prize for painting at the Venice Biennale, the gallery has constructed an itinerary of about 40 works, ranging from the abstract paintings from the 1930s to later works, by way of the central cycles of his output, such as the “flying Dutchmen,” the “Amalasunthas” and the “rebel angels” made starting in the 1940s.
Most of the works come from important private collections and are rarely shown in public. Together, they make it possible to trace – also through a precious nucleus of works on paper – the evolution of a language that is unique in its ability to concentrate an entire fantastic universe in small paintings with remarkably essential signs and colors, ranging from the beloved Marches landscape to skies inhabited by moons, missiles, angels, ghost ships.
Deeply rooted in his homeland, from which he also drew Leopardian inspiration for solitary meditation, Licini was also able to absorb the most advanced forms of European culture of his time, especially the formal indications of Modigliani and the theoretical aspects of Surrealism, as well as the abstract language that led him, in the 1930s, to show work at Galleria del Milione in Milan, one of the very rare exhibitions of his career. Abstraction and Surrealism which he interpreted in his own way, and after the war became the background of inimitable figurative fantasies that cannot be traced back to any model: “errant, erotic, heretical,” Licini invented a pictorial world and filled it with his characters. In the exhibition we see the angels with tails, the fantastic Amalasuntha, the talismanic Amalasuntha, the serpents, the “Miracolo di San Marrr….co” of 1951, the yellow, red and blue backgrounds that mark one of the high points of the use of color in an expressive way of European art in the 1950s.
Of particular interest is the nucleus of works that were being studied by Giorgio Magnoni, not just a great enthusiast of the art of Licini, but also an expert on his style, to the point of being able to revise the datings of several works, and of discovering unexpected but enlightening connections between different works of a painter much loved by his fond collectors, who rarely want to separate themselves from his paintings or drawings.
The exhibition curated by Walter Guadagnini is accompanied by a catalogue containing the reproductions of about 70 paintings and about 20 drawings, with essays by the curator and by Tecla Magnoni, underlining the importance of the practice of drawing in Licini’s research, through a series of works on paper included in this show.