Rising Blue Block
1976, Airbrush on Canvas
19.5 x 27.5 in (50 x 70 cm)
Perhaps this was Pantaleoni’s reimagining of children’s chalk drawings and the graffiti that decorated the streets of Italy. The simple shapes shown here have been devoured, churned, and reassembled by the artist’s brush in his unique, surreal style. This piece would not be out of place proudly sprawled across the side of an Italian bakery or more importantly, an art gallery.
Ideo Pantaleoni ( 1904 - 1993 ).
Ideo Pantaleoni born in Legnago in the province of Verona on 12 October 1904, he was the second son of Paolo Pantaleoni and Lucilla Sabbioni. In Ferrara, he went to the Dosso Dossi school of art and later studied at the art school in Bologna. In 1923 he moved to Milan where he at once came into contact with its art world. Milan at the time was the cardinal point of the geography of art and culture.
Having begun in a naturalistic style with such subjects as interiors, still-lifes, landscapes, and compositions of figures, evolved an art that, immediately after the war, took to heart the experiences of the avant-gardes, became concerned with geometrical abstraction and, later on, realized the expressive force of Informale painting and developed it an original manner in line with the techniques and experiments happening at the time.
The precocity of his “geometry” was summed up by Gillo Dorfles (who Pantaleoni knew from his very first experience with M.A.C. – Movimento Arte Concreta, of which he was one of the founders) when he underlined that “in the immediate post-war period, when non-figurative art of a geometrical-constructive kind – in other words, Concreate Art – began first to be reignited on the Italian art scene, Pantaleoni was one of the first to align himself with it.” In Italy there had already been a period of geometrical abstract art in the 1930s with two parallel and coexisting “schools.”
Pantaleoni’s Concrete Art period covered the whole decade of M.A.C.’s history (1949 – 1958) and was not limited to painting but also included participation in various experiences of the synthesis of the arts that the movement had as one of its aims and which was to find its maximum expression in the “casa sperimentale b24” presented at the tenth Triennale in Milan in 1954.
Panteleoni’s research was not limited by the rigorous straight-jacket of Concrete Art but developed, towards the end of the 1950’s, into a different sensibility that slowly, with gradual yet rapid steps, led him to subvert the order of geometry and move into the Informale area.
From perfection to chaos, one might be tempted to say even though, truth be told, his Informale work has a constructive rigor that breaks down – or seems to breakdown – in paintings which are dominated by a movement that agitates the composition, a movement that has its distant roots in Futurism.
The various varieties of Informale painting are almost all found in Pantaleoni’s work which uses splashes of colour and marks that enclose and imitate the action in order to compose fascinating structure that at times seem to gather around an apparently expanding nucleus and, at others, to display themselves as elements casually dispersed over various levels of spatial evolution.
Increasingly – even when later on he was to return to geometry – he worked on atmospheric values in which the splashes/marks of colour at times break up into an extended third-dimension and , at others, become a liquid material that extends over the surface before swelling to become a “body” and, at yet other times, gather together – pure atmosphere – in the vibrations of circles, rectangles, triangles, and other Euclidian elements.
This is a development that never finishes, one full of invention in which, looking back, there is clearly to be seen a surprising continuity where the remixing of experiences always manages to create something new. A development with a happy outcome of which the artist was fully aware: he wrote, “I have disembarked in a world full of colour, with a rational compositional outline because I think that for me painting is above all colour.”
Editor of the Ideo Pantaleoni catalogue raisonne.