Review of Post-War Italian Masters, Mazzoleni Art, London

Founded in 1986, the commercially successful Turin gallery, Mazzoleni Art, last week expanded into the illustrious Mayfair art scene. Located in Albemarle Street with a 3,000ft exhibition space spread over two floors, the gallery presents some of the great masters of Post-war Italian Art, with a focus on Arte Povera. Francesco Poli, Italian art critic and curator, creates an elegant display of what is one of Italy’s most prominent artistic periods. The artists displayed include Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani, Agostino Bonalumi, Alberto Burri, Piero Manzoni and Paolo Scheggi, all of whom have featured heavily on the auction house circuit this month.

For the most part the works are single block colours and Poli has themed the exhibition accordingly, placing like colours together to create cube like areas of viewing space that reflect the abstract quality of the works. The upper level presents a fairly open space with an external wall made entirely of glass that serves to impressively showcase works by Fontana, Scheggi, Burri and Bonalumi to the passing public. In contrast, the lower level room offers a more intimate viewing space; compact and carpeted, it feels as though we have walked into a domestic setting, although obviously an affluent one.

The works all address the idea of surface, whether this be the poetic slashes of Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale series or Castellani’s Superficie, behind which inanimate objects force themselves through the surface of the canvas as though seeking to puncture it. Although the works harmonise perfectly to create a lyrical whole, the nature of their minimalist conception makes it difficult for any one piece to particularly stand out from the rest. One that does, however, mange to create a lasting identity for itself is Bonalumi’s Rapporti, 1978. Consisting of three simple elements, glass, resin and marble, Bonalumi has masterfully slotted them together to create a captivating sculpture of serene beauty. The glass sheet perfectly halves the marble base, whilst the white resin sheet sits slightly off centre within the glass to create a slight sensation of discord, which serves to draw the viewer in.

Running until the 19 December, this exhibition is certainly worth a visit for anyone with a taste for contemporary art.

Post-War Italian Masters, until 19 December, Mazzoleni Art Limited, 27 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4HZ.

Rhiannon McGregor

1. Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale.