Mimmo Paladino

(b. 1948)

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(1948– )

Italian painter and sculptor, a leading figure in the Transavantgarde. Born in Paduli as Domenico Paladino he spent most of his youth in Naples. His paintings tend to vivid reds and yellow-golds, frequently using the image of the mask. As Norman Rosenthal puts it, they are ‘full of the imagery of rituals’, and he draws both on Catholic ritual and on the animism he discovered during trips to Brazil. This is, however, always a generalized suggestion, never a precise narrative. He has tended to be most admired by those who celebrated unreservedly the painting revival of the 1980s (see Neo-Expressionism). His work has a notably wide range of art-historical reference: Rosenthal cites ‘African cave painting, Gothic sculpture, the great fourteenth century frescoes of Florence, the Roman mysteries as described in Pompeian wall paintings’. Where he is condemned, the usual charge is that he is part of a generally reactionary tendency. The ‘archaic personages’ reappear in his sculpture in wood and patinated bronze. His work has been widely seen, but critical commentary has tended to be thin. Rachel Withers writes: ‘The art world evidently likes looking at Paladino's neoprimitivist paintings and sculptures, but not taking them apart’ (Artforum International, November 1999).

Subjects: Art.

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