This work is registered in the Archivio Bonalumi, Milan under no. 62-009.
‘The circle sometimes stood perpendicular to the surface of the work-object, emerging from the inside outwards, accentuating the effect of tension that you can always perceive in my works and that, while it is in the opposition offered by the canvas surface to internal thrusts and pressures, takes on the character of a psychological tension because of the morphism, an intrusion of naturalness, that crops up in the abstraction. A tension that in the abstraction is once again a symbolic impulse, in other words the naturalness that is the nature of the work, as well as its mere objectivity’ (A. Bonalumi, ‘Text 1996’, in A. Fiz et al. (eds.), Bonalumi, exh. cat., Museo delle Arti di Catanzaro, Catanzaro, 2014, p. 222).
Exemplifying the artist's lifelong research into the relationship between colour, light and form, Agostino Bonalumi's Bianco presents the viewer with a strikingly sensuous, near-sculptural white surface in which all dialectic tension between canvas and support, volume and surface, concept and form, is superseded. Executed in 1962, Bianco was created only a few years after Bonalumi’s first so-called 'Object-Paintings' - canvases that the artist stretched and deformed through the use of malleable materials and which are regarded as one of the earliest examples of the ‘shaped canvas’. A definitive example of Bonalumi's early practice, the present work characteristically features a round, navel-like dimpled cushion that poetically expands from beneath the pristine white pictorial surface into the surrounding space. Coming to prominence amidst the parallel aesthetics of the Zero group and the Nuove Tendenze movement, Bonalumi's distinctive three-dimensional canvases sought to investigate the basic properties of physical matter. Inspired by frequent visits to the studio of Lucio Fontana in 1959, Bonalumi turned away from Informalism and embarked upon ‘a really new conquest, along the lines that the work of art, while remaining a work of painting, had to be an expression of its own objectivity rather than the locus of representation’ (A. Bonalumi, ‘Text 1996’, in A. Fiz et al. (eds.), Bonalumi, exh. cat., Museo delle Arti di Catanzaro, Catanzaro, 2014, p. 221). Unlike Fontana, however, Bonalumi seemed little interested in the space behind his canvas, but rather focussed on penetrating the space before it – the tangible space inhabited by the viewer. Indeed, as Bianco perfectly demonstrates, Bonalumi’s interest in the potential mechanisms of vision aimed to immerse and involve the viewer, taking him or her beyond the two-dimensionality of the canvas towards a new sensory space of freedom.