The first foreign exhibition of 2020 at České Budějovice’s Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture will be by artist Marco Tirelli.
Tirelli works with the relationship between light and dark and with geometric forms reflecting his obsession with time, space, and everything beyond.
The architectural character of his works, with their contrasts of light and shadow, creates a sense of motion, of appearing and disappearing. This approach is a manifestation of Tirelli’s search for the mysteries of the visible world and its original inner image in an attempt at activating the viewer’s mental and sensory participation.
Marco Tirelli, born 1956 in Rome, began drawing while still a child. He also had contact with friends of his father, who was the manager of the Swiss Institute in Rome. The Tirelli family lived in the institute’s large 19th-century Villa Maraini, where – in view of his drawing talent – the 15-year-old future artist had his own studio. Later, while at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, Tirelli studied scenography under the renowned Toti Scialoia. At the time, he was a great admirer of the Swiss scenographer Adolphe Appia, whose sketches and theories were, along with those of Gordon Craig, an unquestionable initial influence on the “theatrical” approach of Metaphysical Painting.
Tirelli’s work soon gained recognition, and when he was just twenty years old, he was invited by Tommaso Trini to submit a solo project to the 40th Venice Biennale. At the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, he opened his own studio on the top floor of the Pastificio Cerere, an old pasta factory in Rome’s industrial district of San Lorenzo, where he still works today. Here, he helped to establish one of Italian art’s most important movements, the New Roman School, also known as the Scuola di San Lorenzo. Tirelli established himself on the art scene in the early 1980s with the New Roman School, although he did so in a highly individual manner as compared to the group’s other members. The Italian art critic Achille Bonito Oliva called these artists “bearers of individual poetics [who aimed for] a common aesthetic mentality and a moral vision of art.” Over time, Tirelli showed his works at numerous solo exhibitions in Italy and abroad, and also participated in international biennials such as Sydney, São Paulo, and again in Venice. One exhibition of great importance for Tirelli was a 1990 show at the American Academy in Rome, where his works were presented in a dialogue with the drawings and murals of Sol LeWitt.
Over the years, Tirelli has held numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, including at Venice’s Palazzo Fortuny (2010 and 2015), MACRO in Rome (2012), the Venice Biennale (2013), the Saint-Étienne Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (2017), and the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Antwerp and Hong Kong (2018). Marco Tirelli’s works can today be found in collections and museums in Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and the USA.
His effort at showing things that cannot be seen draws in a free and modern way on several fundamental characteristics of the Metaphysical Art of Giorgio de Chirico and Giorgio Morandi. His geometric approach has much in common with the three-dimensional forms that fill the disappearing perspectives of de Chirico’s silent cityscapes and Morandi’s still-lifes from 1918 and 1919, in which geometric elements promote a contrasting interplay between illusion and reality.
One central element in Tirelli’s work is space. He views the painting as a rational tool for analyzing our perception of reality, which is based on philosophical considerations throughout history and in different regions. These sources of inspiration, including Plato, Kant, Leibniz, and Nietzsche, come together in a way that focuses on space as a central theme.
Tirelli’s body of work consists of drawings, sculptures (sketches as well as standalone pieces), large-format paintings, murals, and installations. His metaphysical forms draw inspiration from the view that representation and perception are the visual transformation of shapes that lie passively within us as ordinary objects. He creates paintings that straddle the line between concreteness and conceptuality, tangibility and mentalism, reality and symbol – all while revealing what lies beyond. He believes that art can act as a means by which to reach a world outside of reality that can take the viewer away from concreteness and into a different, highly “poetic” world. One can say that the objects that he paints are merely an excuse for him to explore the unexplainable, to journey to the edge of time, which is the true protagonist of many of his paintings.
For his first solo exhibition in the Czech Republic, Marco Tirelli has chosen to present two important aspects of his most recent work – drawings, and interventions consisting of murals and objects. Viewers thus find themselves in the artist’s “world” of 120 drawings covering three walls of the gallery and pulling us into something like his private archive, a journal of a poetic universe of images from the maze of memory in which he uses his mental map to reveal his visions and inspirations. The second part of the gallery will be “occupied” by murals – paintings in which the homogeneous use of black paint, enclosed in a perfect circle, focuses our attention on the object placed at their center. In these works as in many of his paintings, the artist explores questions of three-dimensionality and the limits of our perception and imagination.
“The world is everything that happens on the boundary between light and shade, everything that is and might be in my consciousness.” (Marco Tirelli)