Whitebox Art Center presents

a survey exhibition

On view December 5th – December 27th 2013
Opening reception Thursday December 5th | 6-8pm


New York City – Whitebox Art Center is pleased to present the first survey exhibition of  Gastone Biggi, one of Italy’s most celebrated painters.

Gastone Biggi was born in Rome in 1925. His artistic career has spanned over five decades, coinciding with many of the 20th century most important developments in painting. Working in Rome in the late Forties, Biggi synthesized the dual influences of European Art Informel and American Abstract Expressionsim. His early paintings combine abstraction and realism in a distinctly genuine and passionate style, that draws inspiration from Italian Renaissance masters such as Giotto, Piero Della Francesca and Masaccio.     

Describing the works he made for his one-man show at the 2009 Venice Biennale, Biggi wrote: “Give me a dot and I will paint you the Universe”. This statement refers to the investigation that he began in the early Sixties around the expressive potentialities of black and white dots, stretching them in continuous lines across the whole space of the canvas (series Continuous from 1959-63 and of Variables from 1970-75). His subsequent work was characterized by a strong dynamic between figurative tautness and dissolution of the image, between well-defined naturalism and structural fluidity, between spatial focus and a sudden loss of field of vision; as seen in the series Constellations (from 1991).

Most evident in his recent work, the materiality of Biggi’s brushstrokes oppose the measured structural order of his compositions, creating a paradoxical polarity that is typical of his art. Even his choice of colors stress this dichotomy; as seen in the Cycle of madness from 1988. In other series, such as Skies and Fields (1978-88), the unfolding space in the paintings becomes a random field of fluid, multidirectional and unexpected apparitions. Filling his paintings with luxuriant colors and vibrant forms, Biggi works in a variety of styles throughout different thematic series – all of which are reflected in his recent series dedicated to New York. Exuding a rhapsody of technical freedom and chromatic energy, this new series shifts in poetic register from the elegiac to the tragic, contrasting the sensuality of natural forms with the beauty of the metropolis.

The existential and the spiritual, the imaginative and the realistic, alternate throughout Biggi’s oeuvre, consistently challenging the relationship between reality and representation. His proclivity for traditional techniques combined with openness to new spaces of painterly material give strength to a free and expressive language that continues to evolve and surprise.


Catalogue essays by Marcia E. Vetrocq and Gianluca Ranzi

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