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Ercole Pignatelli: Miraggi


December 14, 2022  – January 6, 2023


Edited by Stefania Carrozzini

MyMicroGallery is pleased to present Ercole Pignatelli’s solo exhibition entitled “Mirages”. The exhibition, a semi-anthology, is made up of fourteen works including paintings and drawings executed from 1958 to the present day.
“Ercole Pignatelli, in a world overwhelmed by history, lives in the rhythm and time of legend”, wrote Pierre Restany, in an introductory text to the artist’s work. But what is the time of the legend? The time of legend is the time of myth, where things and events have the contours of stories that remain, where there is no death. The “mirages” of Hercules belong to this sacred dimension and consolidate over time their nature of transition from fable to truth and vice versa. They are ideas that soar beyond illusion, where everything aspires to the eternal, where transitory and permanent things entrust themselves to a light that never consumes them, generously offering themselves to our presence intact in the spirit that generated them, because Pignatelli loves to surprise us, he urges us to take an auroral gaze, made up of places of memory that become images sculpted in thought.
Its farms and nature take on a sacred, universal aspect; they are an emblem, they live in an eternal present, they aim at the sublime, as well as all the infinite variety of his subjects, flowers, trees, women. The form of nature and the nature of form are the coordinates that run through all of his work. An incessant research in which anything, even the simplest and most banal aspires to become an archetype, an essential substance of sensible things. Within this frame of symbols, Ercole Pignatelli has marked different rhythms, creating new orders of meaning, hoarding all experiences, but remaining true to himself and always demonstrating his own uniqueness. Which does not mean withdrawing from life, but giving ideas an aesthetic form, so that in all of his works, the figuration never disregards the conceptual dimension. The purpose is clear: to make things absolute, on the wings of pure intuition, to capture the timeless dimension, to make us aware that only by estranging ourselves from the so-called “normality” can we open up an infinite field of perception, the field of existential energy in the state pure. Pignatelli’s enterprise has always been courageous: revealing contradictions: seeing beyond the visible, defeating gravitation, but keeping one’s feet on the ground. Returning the reflected image, the mirage of the image, the illusory character of reality: here are his farms inflamed at times with bright reds and float in a sea of gold and in this mirer, in this mirage Ercole Pignatelli goes beyond , also reveals the deception, the trick. And we have no escape: admire an illusion, keep your eyes open or sink into the hallucinatory abyss, live in the time of a permanent present of everyday life, and as a compass for orientation the call to order of humanism.
His totally free vision translates into the strength of the images, never repeated, generated beyond pre-established schemes; a vision that manifests itself in the utopian project of the permanent dream, a daydream, where colours, space, shapes flirt with silence and with a sometimes aphrodisiac reality. We know that a nothing, a noise, a distraction is enough and this magic is interrupted, and we fall back into our reality, the raw one, which reminds us of our mortal, transitory being. There are few free beings. If life is a hot bubble, we can take refuge in the awareness of our origins. Art, in a world that can be ferocious, opens up to hope, to true knowledge. Ercole Pignatelli’s works are a call to awakening, they oppose the human to the inhuman, they are given as a pure need to exist, they speak to us of our history, they bring us back to the present after having flown over the time of dreams. (Stefania Carrozzini)


Biographical notes
Ercole Pignatelli was born on April 28, 1935 in Lecce into an aristocratic family. The paternal grandfather is a surgeon, the father who studied violin, hospital manager, the grandmother a famous seamstress. In the house of his maternal grandparents he remembers having admired the embroideries of his grandmother Maria, similar in color and fineness to paintings. In the collection of his grandfather Ercole, a renowned surgeon, there are paintings by the Leccese painter Michele Massari, which ignite the boy’s imagination. Two years later he painted his first oil painting: a landscape with trees reflected in a pond. 1945-1946 – Lecce, which was never bombed during the war, is a meeting point for refugees from Greece and Albania. Above the Pignatelli house, a fascinating panorama opens up from the immense. This becomes the magical place of the first real discoveries, visions that will often return also in the artist’s mature work. 1950-1953-him He enrolled at the G. Pellegrini Art Institute, where he was a pupil of the sculptor Aldo Calò and the painter Luigi Gabrieli; with his partner Bruno Orlandi he frequented the studio of the painter Lino Suppressa, who in 1953 presented his first personal exhibition at the Circolo Cittadino of Lecce; immediately after he leaves for Milan where, as soon as he arrives, he has the opportunity to visit the first anthological exhibition of Picasso at Palazzo Reale. The early days of his stay in Milan in the early 1950s were anything but easy; above all he needs the qualities of the southern character, independence, resistance, desire to take possession of a new reality. He rents a room in via Formentini 5, in the Brera district. At Bar Giamaica, where painters, poets and critics were assiduous, he was able to forge relationships with Salvatore Quasimodo, Giorgio Kaisserlian, Lucio Fontana, Ugo Mulas, Piero Manzoni, Milena Milani. He knows the Milanese cultural movement, then very fervent, with which he soon finds himself sharing the interests of renewal: his painting opens up to brighter colors, the figures still recall the women of the south. The gallerist Carlo Cardazzo is interested in these disheveled characters, electrocuted as if by electric current and placed in disturbing environments and buys various canvases every month, thus becoming his first dealer. Peppino Palazzoli, collector and later director of the Galleria Blu, commissioned some paintings from him. In November in Milan he won the San Fedele Prize for young people, which was presented to him by Carlo Carrà. From this point on, his artistic career will become rich and rewarding with international recognition.

His works are permanently exhibited at important museums Fukuyama Art Museum (Japan), Castello Sforzesco Milan, Castello Carlo V, Lecce, J. Paul Leonard Library, San Francisco. His works have been honored by international museums and galleries: New York, Shanghai, Washington, Saint-Paul de Vence, London, Palm Beach, Brussels, Antibes, San Francisco. His paintings are permanently in important museums: Fukuyama Art Museum, Fukuyama (Japan), Castello Sforzesco, Milan (Italy), Castello Carlo V, Lecce (Italy), Kamakura Art Museum, Kamakura (Japan), Galerie d’ Modern and contemporary art, Lecce (Italy), J. Paul Leonard Library, San Francisco (United States). In addition to the numerous exhibitions organized throughout Italy since 1953, his works have had the honors of international museums and galleries: New York, Shanghai, Washington, Saint-Paul de Vence, London, Palm Beach, Brussels, Antibes, San Francisco. Among the numerous prizes won and participations in important contemporary art museums and private collections worldwide, we mention: the Venice Biennials of 1978 and 2011, the exhibition at the Palazzo della Regione Lombardia entitled “Germinazioni due semper nel 2011, the exhibition at the Milan Triennale “The labors of Hercules” in 2015.


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