Enrico Castellani (1930-2017)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more WORKS FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, TORTONA, LOTS 107, 115
Enrico Castellani (1930-2017)

[Superficie bianca]

Details
Enrico Castellani (1930-2017)
[Superficie bianca]
signed 'Enrico Castellani - 3B - I -' (on the reverse)
acrylic on shaped canvas
39 3/8 x 59in. (100 x 150cm.)
Executed in 1976
Provenance
Galleria La Bottega del Quadro, Bergamo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1984.
Literature
R. Wirz & F. Sardella, Enrico Castellani. Catalogo ragionato, Tomo secondo, Opere 1955-2005, Milan 2012, no. 430 (illustrated, p. 437).
Exhibited
Genoa, Galleria La Polena, Castellani, 1976, no. 6 (illustrated, unpaged).
Milan, Galleria Pero, Enrico Castellani. Superfici 1960-1980, 1984.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
This work is registered in the Archivio della Fondazione Enrico Castellani, Milan, under no. 76-009.

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Barbara Guidotti
Barbara Guidotti

Lot Essay

‘If I do things with the canvas and with nails it is because the canvas is the most elastic membrane which, however, also gives a guarantee of resistance. One can think that on having removed the pressure of the nails it goes back to being completely smooth, as at the beginning’ .
Enrico Castellani



Executed in 1976, [Superficie bianca] eloquently encapsulates the increasingly dynamic nature of Enrico Castellani’s compositions through the 1970s, as he continued to blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture to create intriguing, elegant ‘painted objects’ that revel in the ever-shifting effects of light. Employing the artist’s hallmark technique in which the empty, flat, monochrome surface of the canvas is spatially distorted by stretching the fabric over a systematically arranged series of nails, the composition becomes a complex play of light and shadow, of negative and positive depth, continuously altered by its environment and the position of its viewer. However, while Castellani’s manipulations radically transform the surface of the canvas, creating an abstract pattern of rippling peaks and troughs, they do so without altering it indefinitely.
In the present [Superficie bianca], Castellani imbues the composition with a dramatic sense of movement by creating a gentle undulation across the canvas, the carefully composed pattern of regular crenulations allowing the otherwise static surface to appear to swell from left to right, like a gently rolling wave. The entire composition is filled by an intense energy, driving the lines of carefully arranged nails towards the perimeters of the canvas in such a way that they appear as if they could continue indefinitely beyond the boundaries of the picture plane. Thus, [Superficie bianca] may be viewed as merely a small fragment of a greater whole, which aims to convey to the viewer a sense of infinite, unlimited space. ‘For the artist,’ Castellani declared, ‘the need to find new modes of expression is animated by the need for the absolute. To meet this requirement, the only possible compositional criterion is that through the possession of an elementary entity – a line, an indefinitely repeatable rhythm and a monochrome surface – it is necessary to give the works themselves the concreteness of infinity that may endure the conjugation of time, the only conceivable dimension – the yardstick and the justification of our spiritual need’ (E. Castellani, ‘Continuità e nuovo’, Azimuth no. 2, Milan, 1960).

The artist saw these surfaces as ‘invitations to contemplation,’ in which the viewer was encouraged to assess and analyse the physical and psychological act of viewing the artwork before them. In collapsing the boundary between the painted image and the space of the viewer, projecting the former into the latter, Castellani encourages the viewer to engage and interact with the painting on a deeper, contemplative level, rendering the otherwise impersonal artwork a participatory experience. Indeed, standing before [Superficie bianca], the viewer becomes acutely aware of their role in the apprehension of the work, their presence in relation to its projecting surface, their unique perception of the shifting shadows and bright points as their eyes move across the plane, even the temporal dimension of their experience. By deliberately using the traditional tools of painting in the creation of this iconoclastic artistic statement, and using entirely abstract means to stimulate unexpected responses in the eye and mind of the viewers, Castellani disrupts and challenges the viewer’s beliefs regarding the conventions and boundaries of the painted image, re-establishing the painting as a place of encounter between mind and body rather than a passive entity for the outpourings of the artist’s soul.

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