Enrico Castellani, was born in Castelmassa, in the province of Rovigo, on the 4th of August 1930. After studying painting and sculpture at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, he then undertook an architecture degree at the École Nationale Supérieure in Belgium until 1956.
Castellani’s architectural training is a key to his practice as an artist. He constructs space with wood, nails and canvas. The complexity of his works can range from the minimal to the completely abstract and downright surreal. Castellani however, was never interested in referencing other artists and looking back on art history. Instead, he and fellow artists Piero Manzoni, Dadamaino and Vincenzo Agnetti grouped together to found the gallery and associated magazine ‘Azimuth’ in 1959. Like the group ‘Zero’ from Düsseldorf, the Milanese wanted an artwork to be entirely self- referential, possessing reality and authenticity in its own right.
The exhibition at the gallery Massimo De Carlo, London is comprised of eleven paintings and one work on paper. The range of ages of the artworks covers his entire career, from early experimental works from the 60s to important works from the 70s, 80s, 90s and the latest works of this century. Through this historic overview the visitor is able to fully appreciate Enrico Castellani’s intensity and obsession in the repetition and perfection of his unique artistic formula.
In close dialogue with his mentor Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani proposes a two dimensional surface that is in the process of morphing into something three-dimensional. His works are not quite reliefs but paintings emerging from paintings; the animated dynamic of the paint emerges from the materials used and creates itself. The work is born when light hits the surface, radically altering at different hours of the day until it is eventually put to sleep when the lights go out.