Achille Bonito Oliva, the critic who coined the term Transavanguardia and brought the group of five Italian artists, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, Nicola De Maria and Mimmo Paladino, to international prominence and the attention of major museums around the world, wrote: “The response of the eighties to the stylistic uniformity of the sixties and seventies was to recover the use of citations, capable of referring to the history of art as a ready-made and to the different styles of the past as objets trouvés”. Hence it was a synthesis of the mentality of Picasso and Duchamp with a conceptual implication that embodied Leonardo’s definition: “la pittura è cosa mentale” (“Painting is a mental thing”). Art finally returned to its inner motives, to the constituent reasons of its work and to its place par excellence, which is the labyrinth understood as a “work inside”: as a continous digging into the substance of painting.
The Transavanguardia therefore proposed a return to figurative art and did so through a reinterpretation in a contemporary key of the past and contemporary artistic tradition, enriched by a subjective vision with an Expressionist matrix. The Transavanguardia developed a strand of painting with a highly expressive character, which favored pictorial act, color and technique, and made these qualities relevant again . The members of the group, covering a wide range of very different approaches, made use of highly personal expressive modes and expressed themselves with passion or irony, creating compositions that were variously visionary or ambiguous, nostalgic or aggressive. By doing so they revealed their lucid and attentive reflection on the former artistic culture, from the historical avant-gardes of the twentieth century down to the most recent developments.
In conjunction with the major retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan until March 4 next, Madre is dedicating a room of the museum’s historical collection to five leading representatives of the group with a series of significant works which exemplify their productions and their unflagging and disquieting innovative energy.