Giuseppe Maraniello

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After attending the Art Institute and the Fine Arts Academy of Naples, and after working with Luca (Luigi) Castellano’s Gruppo P.66, Giuseppe Maraniello (Naples, 1945) moved to Milan in 1971, where he began to experiment with photography. In 1973, at Studio Morra in Naples, he showed Momenti del mio tempo intimo. In 1977 he abandoned photography to instead explore the hybrid languages of painting, drawing and sculpture elevating them to a formal hypothetical synthesis.

The paintings the artist produced in those years – among which the work in the collection, Il diavolo è verde (“The Devil Is Green”, 1979), is one of the first masterpieces – are characterized by the application of color that appears to be uniform but is actually vibratile. In the artist’s own words: “I especially sought the contrasts, the opposites in the colors; for me, color is a sort of diaphragm. At times it foreshadowed a side, the back, where its complementary exists. Often, in the past, I would pierce the canvas; for example, a green one, such as Il diavolo verde. When I state that ‘the devil is green,’ I am really saying the exact opposite, because the devil in the collective imagination is red.”
These movable works, populated by fantastic allusions, are often also furrowed by bronze figures that are often small in size, located inside and outside the space of the canvas: figurines of the imaginary, ascribable to citations from Jorge Luis Borges (the serpent anfesibena, which moves in two directions at the same time) or, in their uncertain spatio-temporal balance, entrusted to the iconography of hermaphrodites, leaping athletes, and centaurs in battle. The artist harks back to the archaic, which is steeped in values open to interpretation that waver between archetype, primitive folklore, ancient spirituality; moreover, he confers to these works an aura that restores equilibrium to the dissonances of the materials and the objects they are composed of, cables, rods, tied wood, bowls of dry color.

The narrative of Maraniello’s works, which are always suspended between the intimism of painting/ drawing and the dynamism of the sculpture, emerges from materialness that always tends toward the search for a possible assent, rather than the affirmation of a static and self-defined presence, opening up – upon the edge of the relationship between two-and three-dimensionality – to a fabled game of voids and subtractions, featuring intangible contours such as those that separate history and legend. Starting in the 1980s Maraniello produced multi-material works, giving rise to a painting-object that includes wax, clay and natural wood. The exhibition Dieci anni dopo i nuovi, curated by Francesca Alinovi, Renato Barilli and Roberto Daolio in 1980, sanctioned the birth of the group “Nuovi nuovi,” which the Neapolitan artist was associated with, albeit continuing in a very personal exploration. From 1983 onward, this personal exploration focuses on large-scale sculptures that eventually expand in the public space, referring back to literary titles evoking a stratified and continually reinterpreted imaginary.

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