The exhibition “Abstract Art in Italy. Umberto Mariani” in the General Staff Building of Hermitage Museum.
Umberto Mariani, a remarkable post-war exponent of Italian abstract art, is renowned for his complex draperies on unevenly shaped canvases.
His works investigate the illusion of light and shade created within folds of fabric. Mariani has always been interested in the question of the canvas’s ‘tangibility’ and he interprets sheets of lead as dense, heavy textiles, a ‘mute’ material that is called upon to create a sense of the liberation of the picture space, out into the world. This has reference to a whole segment of post-war Italian art history, to areas of artistic investigation first opened up and developed by Lucio Fontana in his spazialismo (Spacialism) and his famous buchi (holes) and tagli (slashes).
In Mariani’s works drapery emerges by following the strict laws of construction. Although his preparatory drawings are largely intuitive, each composition is then carefully worked up before being executed with scrupulous care. What sets Mariani apart is his individual visual language, which exerts an influence on Italian art practice today.