Paladino, Mimmo

One word frequently recurs in the titles of the paintings of Mimmo Paladino: silence. The artist, who represents silence made up of shadows and mysterious magic, declares, “Art is not a superficial thing, nor a sociological thing, nor a poetic storm. Art is a slow process around a language of signs.” The Italian painter, sculptor, printmaker and draughtsman, Mimmo Paladino regards his work as nomadic art, based on repeated passages, and explains that by nomad, he means a crossing of the various territories of art – both in a geographic and temporal sense – with the greatest technical and creative freedom.

Paladino’s first solo exhibition took place in Caserta in 1969. In 1977 he moved to Milan, and then in 1978 to New York, where he received solo shows at both Marian Goodman Gallery and Annina Nosei Gallery. In 1980 he participated at the Venice Biennale. His first retrospective was mounted in 1985 at the Lenbachhaus in Monaco. In 1990 in Gibellina he created for Schiller’s play Bride of Messina his first Montagna di sale. In 1994 Paladino became the first contemporary Italian artist to exhibit in Beijing. In 1995 Napes dedicated a large exhibition to Paladino in three prestigious public spaces. He also became increasingly involved in ceramics and terracotta, which he created in the Gatti studio in Faience. There he execute the large cycle of Dormienti, which he exhibited in London at the Roundhouse in 1999. In the same year the Royal Academy of London made him an Honorary Member.

In the early 1970s Paladino concentrated on drawing, developing much of the imagery that later appeared in his paintings. During the late 1970s he produced mostly monochrome paintings in blue, red or yellow, often incorporating found objects. In 1980 he was associated by the critic Achille Bonito Oliva with the ‘Transavanguardia’ painters Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Nicola De Maria. He rapidly developed an allegorical figurative style, drawing on imagery from Christianity and Classical mythology, while also being influenced by ancient Egyptian, tribal and modern art. He created enigmatic archaic figures, as in an untitled Stone Sculpture depicting a male carrying a horn-shaped vessel, while such works as the painting Flayed exemplify his preoccupation with the themes of death and sacrifice. Paladino’s technical versatility also extended to various forms of printmaking, including etching, linocut and aquatint.