An experimenter of techniques and materials – painting, sculpture, design, stills, jewelry, iron, ceramics, formica, plexiglas, neon – Renato Barisani (Naples, 1918-2011) develops research that is based on strict internal rules. After adhering to and taking part in the exhibitions of the Gruppo Sud at Al Blu di Prussia gallery, in 1950 Barisani founds the Gruppo Napoletano Arte Concreta together with Renato De Fusco, Guido Tatafiore and Antonio Venditti, with whom he signs the manifesto Perché arte concreta in 1954. The group moves within the area of abstractgeometric research of international breadth, and shows its work with the MAC group in Milan. In the second half of the 1950s, the artist creates his first stills and jewelry, for which he uses man-made and extra-pictorial materials such as gears, metal structures and fragments, soon opening up to informal artistic solutions, especially developed in terms of materiality. During these years, Barisani frequently uses materials that are related to the territory, for instance, sand, ash, shells, creating works such as the one in this collection entitled Imprevisto (“Unexpected”, 1961).
From 1960 to 1963 he is a member of Nuova Scuola Europea of Lausanne founded by George Kasper. After his first attempts at ceramic decoration (from 1964) and after using neon to build sculptures and other luminous objects (early 1970s), Barisani returns to a dry formal geometry, which he continues to explore when he embraces the work of the Neapolitan group Geometria e Ricerca between 1975 and 1980. In the 1980s Barisani continues to experiment with new materials, including spray painting, watercolor, pastel, Vinavil (glue), paper and cardboard, xerox copies and wooden shapes, which he used to make collages, articulating abstract language that is no longer geometric, but rather headed toward a new organic type of biomorphism (Organic Abstraction).
Barisani has participated in major international exhibitions (Venice Biennale in 1962 and in 1972), the Pollock-Krasner Foundation of New York awarded him the Pollock prize (1993), and he taught at the Fine Arts Academy of Naples from 1978 to 1984, after teaching at the Istituto d’Arte. Retrospectives of his work were held in Villa Pignatelli in Naples in 1977, while in 2000 a large metal sculpture by the artist was permanently installed at the entrance to Castel dell’Ovo. In 1999 he presented his mosaic and monumental sculpture for the Salvator Rosa station and a large sculpture outside the Quattro Giornate station of the Naples Underground. These were followed by works realized for the towns of San Giorgio a Cremano (2001), Giffoni Sei Casali (2003) and Casoria (2004). The artist’s most recent works were exhibited at PAN | Palazzo delle Arti Napoli in 2008.