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Renato Birolli, Composizione
Material and technique
mixed technique on paper
cm. 65 x 50
Fabrizio D'Amico
A jumble of objects are strewn across the outermost surface of the painting. It is impossible to identify them all but in any event they pertain to fishing. This was a frequent subject of Birolli’s in those years, when his activity in Milan and Paris alternated with protracted periods of work on the coasts of Brittany. Vivid, contrasting colours saturate the forms, which are not touched by chiaroscuro (accentuating the  emphasis on the surface), and are punctuated with rapidly executed, hasty writing.
At the time of the painting, Birolli was at the height of his neo-cubist period, linked to models developed by Braque and Picasso in his Antibes period (though he too was an active Communist, Birolli remained very distant from Picasso’s more explicitly political and social themes). In 1950 he exhibited at the 25th  Biennale with four paintings in this style, in the room dedicated to the future members of the Group of Eight (everyone except Afro, who declined the invitation to take part), and other artists who were more clearly destined for realistic expressionism, such as Zigaina. Not unlike Santomaso, with whom he corresponded frequently, he enriched the Cubist syntax with intended signs and progressively more relaxed manual automatisms, inspired by the evocative power of Hans Hartung.
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