From March 3rd to July 1st, Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, Liguria, will be hosting an exhibition of Italian Naïve artist, Antonio Ligabue. On show will be 80 works, amongst which paintings, sculptures, drawings and engravings by this sadly unfortunate painter, considered one of the most important of the 20th century.
The exhibition follows the two main themes sustaining Ligabue’s creative universe: animals, both wild and domestic, and his self-portraits. Visitors will be able to admire some of the artist’s greatest masterpieces such as “Tigre Reale”, which he drew in 1941 while at the Mental Hospital of San Lazzaro in Reggio Emilia, the two versions of “Landscape with Hunting Dogs”, “Eagle with Fox”, “Black Widow”, “Tiger Head”, as well as an impressive gallery of self-portraits, such as the “Self-portrait with Motorcycle Cap” and the 1957 self-portrait.
Domestic animals are caught by Ligabue in a rural atmosphere, inserted in landscapes such as the flatlands of the Bassa Reggiana, where he lived from 1919 to his death in 1965, or against the castles, churches and houses with steep roofs of his native Switzerland. The wild animals, whose anatomy he demonstrates to know perfectly well, are often represented in the moment they fall on their prey, with an exasperated expressionism and an almost spasmodic attention of reiterated decorative elements.
The self-portraits, instead, amount to a bitter thread in his paintings. The artist represents himself in the foreground, occupying nearly the entire scene, and completely obliterating the relevance of the landscape in the background, excluding some rare exceptions. These portraits summarize a perpetual and constant human condition of anguish, desolation and loss. His face expresses pain, fatigue, dismay and the pain of living. Any relationship with the world seems to have been forever severed. They represent Ligabue’s sufferings to the point we can almost hear his silent cry in front of nature and the deafness of the people surrounding him.
This exhibition is a further chapter, after the shows at Gualtieri in 2015, at Palermo and Rome in 2016 and at Pavia in 2017, to carry forward Ligabue’s works in a correct critical and historical evaluation. This is the opportunity to discard the adjectives ‘naive’ and ‘mad’ and let oneself go to a tragic expressionism which fuses visionary exasperation to decorative taste.
On show at the Loggia degli Abati, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa. Open daily, except Mondays, from 10 am to 7 pm. Full price ticket costs 11 Euros.