The play of light on the variegated surface of Castellani's Superficie bianca, with the shadows falling between the crests and the pits of the canvas, creates a strange sense of distortion and disorientation. Castellani, using only the tools and constituents traditionally associated with painting - the frame, nails, canvas and paint - has created an illusion of space and light, despite limiting himself to only the equally and evenly applied white paint. While eschewing any sense of figuration or representation, and even of colour, he has managed to reassemble the traditional tools of the trade in a novel manner that plays with both light and space. In an ironic twist, this work almost appears two-dimensional, as though it were in fact a trompe l'oeil representation of a surface, instead of genuinely being three-dimensional.
Superficie bianca's swirling geometrical pattern, so ordered and precise, seems almost at odds with the idea of art and inspiration. Castellani has deliberately removed any sense of representation, any personal input of the artist, from his work, creating, literally, a blank canvas. As in the Achromes of his friend Piero Manzoni, this blank canvas is not merely two-dimensional but has been given a sculptural quality. However, where Manzoni used slow-setting kaolin on his canvases, allowing the process of setting to change the shape and appearance of the work thereby removing the artist's interference, Castellani has used geometry, the impersonal mathematics of a preordained pattern denying the possibility of a specific, personal subject matter, thus acting as a precursor to Minimalism. Indeed, Donald Judd even credited Castellani with being one of the greatest influences on the minimalist idiom.
Castellani and Manzoni were alike in trying to create an artform that is open to all. By removing all the signifiers, from their art, they sought to create a pared down art that would have resonances for anyone who looked at their work. Castellani's use of traditional painting materials is used to great effect to emphasise the immaterial nature of the 'subject matter'. There is nothing of Castellani, no autobiography, no emotion. There is merely a strange and disconcerting geometrical pattern that will elicit a similar visual response from almost any viewer. In this, Castellani has managed to create an art for the Everyman, an art that can be understood by all because of its minimalism.