Antonio Scaccabarozzi

Merate, 1936 – Santa Maria Hoé, 2008


Born in 1936 in Merate, Lecco, Antonio Scaccabarozzi was never part of the Brera Academy but worked in parallel with the great Milanese artists of the 1960s. Many of them became his friends and with them, in the years to come, he exhibited mainly in Germany. The works of the first period of his return to Italy concern the theme of Static-Dynamic Balance, clear references to his youthful fall in love with Neoplasticism, to the point of touching, but rarely, also forms of kinetic objects. The creation of movement through light will be the reason that will lead to the birth of elements placed on the canvas. The same problem, meaning the behaviour of light that creates volumes, geometries and surfaces that are constantly different, pushes Scaccabarozzi to act with the die by making small (or larger) elements on the canvas that are engraved but still attached to the canvas and partially raised: die-cut. The subsequent development of his work will take the title of prevalence. Points, first monochrome, then coloured, arranged on the canvas or board in an order that follows a mathematical definition. The result is highly poetic and absolutely in line with the experiments that many artists have carried out since the 1960s. Together with Paolo Minoli and Nato Frascà, under the guidance of Alberto Veca, he formed the group of Systematic Questions. While working on the Prevalences he meets a personality who will be decisive for his artistic adventure: Antonio Calderara. The esteem of the great artist will turn into contacts with galleries abroad, especially in Germany and Switzerland. Antonio Calderara provides, we could say, the passport to the works of Scaccabarozzi: Fustellati and Prevalenze participate in many exhibitions abroad. After years of dedication to rationality, he freed himself from the concept and form of the point and decided to experiment with every possible form of measurement. He measures, in his own way, Quasi Rette Lines, Real Distances and Represented Distances, the weight of fragments of colour gluing on canvas or on paper, he declares the surface of paper scratching with a sharp object, he establishes the quantity of colour he injects into the canvas or the coloured water in which he immerses a diving fabric, he counts how many times he writes a word on paper, on canvas. The period of the measurements ends when the artist feels the need to free himself from calculations and from any evident and obligatory form of a pre-established scheme. Thus the free quantities are born. Quantities of colour on various surfaces without the need to specify, quantify or measure. Research, then, into galleries, out of trend, that can appreciate and defend his new work. In Italy the old collaborations (as for the Galleria Lorenzelli in Bergamo) are over, the contacts with the galleries anchored to the works of the 70’s are definitively lost. The 1980s represented a very special moment in the artistic life of Scaccabarozzi. The painter, because he is such, sets out on a path of his own without any reference to existing art currents while remaining fully informed of the becoming international art. In those years he also went to New York and visited all the important museums and art institutions of the city. The free quantities of colour led Scaccabarozzi to a new material for him: polyethylene sheets. The lightness, transparency and versatility of the material fascinate him; the sheets of polyethylene open up a new way of expressing himself. The quantities of blue ink spread on transparent polyethylene are works that are very exposed and appreciated in Germany but completely neglected, ignored, in Italy. This is followed by polyethylene in many other colours, large and very large, exhibited for the first and last time in Bremen in the 1990s. The body of the painting, spread on a transparent surface, gives the possibility to see the color isolated and from this observation the artist is pushed to create an amalgam of glue and color that, when it dries, becomes something like the skeleton of quantity! These works are called essential. Even the Essentials are mainly exhibited in Germany, at the Hoffmann gallery in Friedberg and in Saarbrucken. The great return to “plastic” took place at the end of the nineties. The problem of transparency, of what one sees and perceives WHERE and WHAT one sees and WHAT one perceives, are the greatest questions that the artist poses. Gradually the polyethylene sheets are treated as if they were layers of color. They are sheets that float in space, hung and kept in order by a very thin nylon thread. Even these works find rare buyers in Italy while in Badenweiler the historic gallery of Louise Krohn gives space and voice to this expression. Louise Krohn, an important and skilful character, perceives, in the sheets of polyethylene, the same soul of the refined (color quantity). The death of Mrs. Krohn is followed by her son, Ekke Duiz, who will be able to appreciate and support this type of work. Collectors near the Basel area fall in love with the body of work that is soon called, generically, the plastics. The veils, an oil colour given to very thin veils on a base colour spread on canvas or cardboard, could be a tribute to the illustrious ancestor.

Main exhibitions

Among his exhibitions: Galerie Ernst, Hannover, Germany, 1971, Galerie Thomas Keller, Munich, Germany, 1974, Galerie Seestrasse, Rapperswill, Switzerland, 1974, “Prevalence”, Galerie Lydia Megert, Bern, Switzerland, 1976, “Paintings”, Galerie Swart, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1978, Galerie Hoffmann, Friedberg, Germany, 1982, Galerie Katrin Rabus, Bremen, Germany, 1982, “Antiono Scaccabarozzi”, Galerie Luise Krohn, Badenweiler, Germany, 1992, “Antiono Scaccabarozzi: Retrospective 1965-1993”, Galerie Hoffmann, Friedberg, Germany, 1993, “Essentials, Work in Progress”, Galerie Krohn, Badenweiler, Germany, 1995, “Dirnaichner – Scaccabarozzi”, Galerie Ucher, Cologne, Germany, 1996, “When Horst Schuler” with Stéphane Bordarier, Citadellstrasse 10, Düsseldorf, Germany, 1999, “Antonio Scaccabarozzi: Body of the work and depth of the gaze”, Kunsthistorisches Institute, Bonn University, Germany, 2001, “Günther Holder, 2004 “Antonio Scaccabarozzi”, Galerie Katharina Krohn, Basel, Switzerland,2004, “Antonio Scaccabarozzi”, Cairn Gallery, Pittenweem, United Kingdom, 2004, “Antonio Scaccabarozzi: Banchise”, Sleeper, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2004, “Antonio Scaccabarozzi, Polietilene”, House of Art, CeskéBudejovice, Czech Republic, “Raumwechsel 5”, Kunstraum Alexander Bürkle, Freiburg, Germany, 2006, “Antonio Scaccabarozzi, Yellow of Naples”, Galerie Katharina Krohn, Basel, Switzlerland, 2007, “Homage to Antonio Scaccabarozzi”, Galerie Katharina Krohn, Basel, Switzerland, 2010, “Antonio Scaccabarozzi: Variable”, “Antologica 1965-2008”, Galleria P420, Bologna, 2011, Fondazione Antonio Calderara, Vacciago, Italy, 2012, “Misurare la quantita’ e no”, Galleria Clivio, Parma, Italy, 2015, “Destinazione presente”, 10 A.M. Art, Milano, 2018, Vo[i]ler Couleur, MAC (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Lissone)/Galleria Clivio, 2018.

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