Ettore Spalletti

Ettore Spalletti, Dittico rosa, 2011. Collezione Lia Rumma, Napoli. In comodato a Madre · museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Napoli. Foto © Amedeo Benestante. | Ettore Spalletti, Dittico rosa / Pink Diptych, 2011. Lia Rumma collection, Naples. On loan to Madre · museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples. Photo © Amedeo Benestante.

Ettore Spalletti (Cappelle sul Tavo, 1940) was one of the most unique voices on the Italian artistic scene in the years after World War II. He is an artist who spanned the stages of Arte Povera and the return to painting of the early 1980s, maintaining an entirely individual position and developing a body of works that combine memories of historical and modern art, from Piero della Francesca to Giorgio Morandi and Lucio Fontana. Spalletti’s art is timeless, absorbing the profundity of history by surpassing its chronological structure. His works straddle the boundary between two and three dimensions, in a fusion of painting and sculpture, tactility and image, in the luminist immersion of the exhibition space.

Dittico rosa (“Pink Diptych”) is a work that has already been exhibited at the Madre museum on the occasion of the institution’s extensive retrospective dedicated to the artist in 2014, organized in collaboration with the GAM – Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Turin and the MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome. The shape of the diptych – reminiscent of the pictorial field’s division in Renaissance altarpieces – is here transformed into a double monochrome field, whose objectuality is emphasized by the thin gold-leaf bordering of the edges. This material reflects the light, thus rendering the work sensitive to its surrounding environmental conditions, and recalling the limitless spiritual spatiality of medieval paintings with gold backgrounds. The luminosity of the gold leaf adorns the edge of both paintings like a fine ray of light, further stressing the tactile quality of the color pink spread on the surface. Alongside the clarity of the absolute geometric shapes in the two paintings, this sensitive characteristic profoundly distinguishes Spalletti’s entire oeuvre.
Indeed, since the mid-1970s, the artist has explored the expressive potential of color through a perceptive and vivid pigmentation, the outcome of a process in which oil paint is mixed with pure pigment and plaster. This impasto is then applied in successive layers and finally scraped in order to render the painted surface both atmospheric and bright. Treated in this way, the color engages in a delicate dialog with the light, softening and dematerializing the geometry of the forms. Despite the predominance of monochrome, Spalletti’s art is rooted in a profound figurative tradition, weaving a fertile relationship with the sentiment of landscape and the portrait genre. In fact, the titles of his works often recall a vision tied to a place or a sentimental and relational dynamic. Thus the blue implies the image of the sky, while the pink evokes the sensation of skin.