“Painting is back. Painting in Italy in the 1980s” exhibition in Milan

“Painting is back. Painting in Italy in the 1980s” exhibition in Milan. Painting is back. Painting in Italy in the 1980s: a fresh look at Italian painting through an exhibition created by Luca Massimo Barbero

The Gallerie d’Italia-Piazza Scala in Milan is providing an insight into Italian painting in the 1980s through “Painting is back. Painting in Italy in the 1980s”, which brings together the biggest names in the Transavantgarde movement and documents the artists that preceded and followed that era.

Through a collection of around 60 works, “Painting is back” shows how painting in the 1980s came to represent a form of freedom, an antidote to the dark years of terrorism and to a decade that, in reality, was not the golden age of hedonism and superficiality that it is often remembered as.

The 1980s saw the birth of a new “art system” which brought together the big galleries in New York, Cologne and Zurich with galleries in Italian cities such as Modena, Naples, Milan and Turin, resulting in exhibitions which represented key moments in art history, starting in the 1970s with Europa79 in Stuttgart (1979) and continuing into the 1980s with the likes of A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy in London (1981) and Zeitgeist in Berlin (1982).

The exhibition kicks off with drawings and paintings produced between 1977 and 1980 by Gino De Dominicis, Luigi Ontani and Mimmo Paladino and with Studio Azzurro’s IL NUOTATORE (va troppo spesso ad Heidelberg) [THE SWIMMER (goes to Heidelberg too often)], a large video installation from 1984.

Also included are various works from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection, including four rare paintings produced by Enrico Baj in the 1950s and 1960s. They document the growing maturity of the artist, who – in 1983 – produced “Il mondo delle idee” [The world of ideas], a canvas measuring 19 metres in length and created using spray paint, the result bordering on contemporary graffiti.

To coincide with the exhibition, a special edition of “Flash Art” was published and distributed. One of the most important art culture publications in the 1980s, the edition includes articles, interviews and documents associated with the artists included in the exhibition.