La Spezia celebrates Walter Valentini with a big retrospective set up in the bright rooms of the CAMeC. It is a really special occasion to to go through the more than forty years of intense artistic activity of the painter from the Marche region (Pergola, 1928), who grew up in the aura and culture of Urbino and then went on to move to Milan indefinitely, where he developed his incomparable and multifaceted artistic talent. While it was in Urbino, at the historical Scuola del libro following the path of important figures such as Piero della Francesca, Laurana and Fra’ Luca Pacioli that Valentini received his classical imprinting and the Renaissance penchant for the measure, it’s in Milan that his abstract-concrete identity was formed, as well as his specific interest for surfaces as pictorial event with an autonomous and meaningful sense. In the Italian artistic landscape Valentini is certainly a unique case for his originality, his coherent language and the craftsmanship behind his inventive ideas.
The exhibition starts with historical boards from the middle of the Seventies – Campo orizzontale A, 1975; Omaggio a Paolo Uccello, 1975; Io e te, 1974 -, and then goes on to show the series of surfaces engraved by time – At the exhibition entrance there isLa stanza del tempo, with a width of over five meters – and then brings us to the unpublished gypsum works from 2016, among sculptures, engravings, drawings and tiles which make up his production.
Going back through Valentini’s research it is easy to understand that the current one is an idea which has been there since the Eighties, that is when his works abandoned the extended surface of painting – but the image composition was already explicitly mature, bordering on abstraction – and instead we have surprising spacial reliefs and devastating digs in the matter”, writes Enzo Di Martino in the catalogue.
The main elements of his style are immediately evident: the art culture of the Renaissance, based on harmony and balance; the sense of space and proportions of architecture; the abstract research of Russian constructivists and of the great masters of abstraction and spatialism; the need to represent the end of time, the cosmos, the memory;the grandeur and the sensitivity in using materials.
The crisis dimension and the uncertainties about the present and the cosmic spaces in which the end of time is evoked live in the violated surfaces of his boards, etched by the damage of time and the mystery of the eternal dynamism of the universe. In this way they break and re-interpret the classical divine proportion in a modern way.
There are more than 130 works in the exhibition, from the boards to the paper, from sculptures to gypsum statues, to refractory tiles, graphics, that is, all genres, materials and techniques in which the wondrous mastery of the author and his unique and original language are revealed. Moreover, a section is dedicated to his famous art books dealing with current poets and with our excellent past: autonomous artworks which not only need to be read but also to be appreciated because of the engraved sheets with perfect typographic structures, proper visual artworks accompanying the texts.
“The impression that the observer has is that graphic pathways are employed to answer complex mathematical operations which require appropriate knowledge; they are geometrical schemes made by images which lead the artwork composition with hierarchies and proportions specific for the single themes.
The art miracle simply resides in the sensitivity, measure and proportions with which the artist intuitively forms the space of the artwork by positioning different geometrical shapes according to harmonies that he thinks are suitable”. (Mario Botta).
Walter Valentini was born in Pergola (Pesaro-Urbino) in 1928.
Urbino. His cultural and professional development started in the Scuola del Libro of Urbino, a place in which engraving techniques such as copper engraving, lithography and wood engraving are studied. There he started to breath humanism and to work on paper as if it was a braiding of nervous fibres of his body. Urbino means painting, architecture and philosophy, which in the 15 th century, with Federico da Montefeltro, a patron and intellectual, found their union in neoplatonism, and here Piero della Francesca, Laurana and other courtiers planned the utopia. Space, time and reality are ordered in a rational system, single parts relate to everything through proportions, the intelligible sign of beauty and of the Creator.
Milan. He moved to Milan in the Fifties, where he had three great protagonists of abstract rationalism as masters: Max Huber, Albert Steiner and Luigi Veronesi. In the Sixties his Urbino training became experimental and was influenced by the international tensions which were happening in the galleries and magazines of Milan. The first big exhibitions were in Milan at the Galleria Vinciana, (1974) and at Il Milione (1982), presented in a catalogue by Guido Ballo, which opened to him the doors of foreign galleries and of the world’s most important museums.
The geometric universe. The main elements of his style are immediately visible: the artistic culture of the Reinassance, characterised by harmony and balance; the sense of space and proportion of architecture; the abstract research of Russian constructivists and of the big masters of abstraction from spatialism; the need to represent the end of time, of the cosmos, of memory; the grandeur and a big sensitivity towards the materials themselves (from the paper sheets to the wooden boards, to the walls). Here big cycles such as the “Stanze del tempo” (Rooms of time), il “Muro del tempo” (the Wall of time), and the newer series dedicated to the “Città del sole” (City of the Sun), the “Città ideale”(Ideal city), and in the big boards of the cycle “Le misure, il cielo”(Measures, the sky) were born.
Boston. In 1979 the University of Massachusetts in Boston invited him for a seminar during an exhibition of Italian artists, “Birth of the work”. In 1982 he got the first prize both at theIbiza Biennialandin the Biennial of Listowel (Ireland).
San Francisco. In 1983 he obtained the “World Print Four” Special Edition Purchase Award of San Francisco (CA), U.S.A.
Krakow. In 1984 he was awarded the Grand Prix of the X InternationalPrint BiennialofKrakow, which in 1986 organised for him a personal retrospective in Krakow and Torun.
Stockholm. In 1987 he showed at the Gummensons Konstgallery with an exhibition titled “La città del sole” (City of the sun)and presented the book “Walter Valentini” (Casa Editrice Italica)by Giacomo Oreglia, withItalian and Swedish texts by Luciano Caramel. Alwaysin 1987 the same exhibition was shown and the same book was presented at the Centro Culturale d’Arte Bellora in Milan.
Chiaravalle. In 1988 he set up a big installationin the “Sala dei monaci” of the Abbey of S. Maria in Castagnola in Chiaravalle (Ancona). A forgotten room in which he worked directly on the walls worn out by time with his alphabet of lines, threads, signs and nails.
Greenwhich. In 1989 he was invited to Ljubljana, with his own personal exhibition room, at the XVIII Biennial of Graphic Arts. In the same year a retrospective of his print and painting work was set up at the palazzo dell’Arengo in thecityof Rimini. In 1990 he created twobig worksfor the Ashford Properties building in Greenwhich, Connecticut (USA) and the exhibition “Le misure, il cielo” at the Stadtmuseum in Siegburg (Germania);
New York. In 1990 he set up the exhibition “Le misure, il tempo” at the Panicali Fine Art in New York, the gallerythat Carla Panicali opened in the U.S.A after the experience of the “L’isola” gallery in Rome, where Valentini had an exhibition in 1988.
Aspen. In 1991 the installation “Lo spazio, il tempo” was set up at the Harris Concert Hall in Aspen, Colorado (USA) and the “La città ideale” at the Palazzo Montani-Antaldi, Pesaro; in 1992, the installation “Il labirinto della Memoria” was set up at the Frearte di Milano, which in 1992 was at the Asakura Museum in Tokyo.
Paris. Between 1995 and 1996 his personal exhibition “L’espace, le temps” was shown at the Galerie Dionne inParisand still in 1996 he participated to the XXXéme Prix Internazional d’Art Contemporainin Montecarlo (Principality of Monaco) and heobtained the “Prix Gabriel Ollivier”.
Venice. In 1997 he was invited at the XLVII edition of the Biennale di Venezia, in the section “Unimplosive Art” (towardsnew Classicism) and in 1999 at the Quadriennale in Rome. Alsoin 1999 andthen in 2000 he showed at the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, Chicago and Vancouver: “Walter Valentini nei canti di G. Leopardi”.
In 2001 a bigretrospective, “Walter Valentini. Sulle tracce dell’infinito” was set up at Palazzo Magnani in Reggio Emilia, curated by Sandro Parmiggiani.
Francavilla al Mare. In 2005 he won the 1° prizeat the “56° Premio Michetti” of Francavilla al Mare.
Againin 2005, in Loano, at Palazzo Doria the exhibition “La voce silenziosa delle stelle” was set up, curated by Claudio Cerritelli and Gian Pietro Menzani.
“Memoria”. On April 26 2006 in Piazza S. Ambrogio in Milan there was the opening of the sculpture “Memoria”, made of bronze patina (cm. 350x82x142) remembering thefallen of the Vicenza division during the Russian campaign of 1941-1943.
Mario Luzi. Stillin 2006, at the Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan the art book"Mario Luzi, Walter Valentini. Vetrinetta accidentale"was presented,published by the Association"Cento Amici del Libro", showingthe masters and the sheets printed on thehand press- both copper engraved andtypographic. He alsoworked, with the help of the art master Lino Reduzzi, with themosaic technique, creating works in public and private spaces.
Ancona. In 2008, in Parisat the La Hune Brenner gallery an exhibition of works on paper was set up.Alwaysin 2008 theOffice for the Promotion of Culture of the Marche Region and of theMunicipalityof Ancona organised, in thewonderful, ample halls of the Mole Vanvitelliana,the retrospective "E' una notte stellata. Ecco il progetto", curated by Elena Pontiggia. At the same time inside the temple (always by Vanvitelli) situated at the centre of the court, the"Arco del cielo"statue , of bronze patina and with the dimensions of 275x35x30 was unveiled. For this occasion the Skira publisher launched a big Catalogueshowing fifty years of his artistic work.
In 2013 he won the “DO FORNI” XXVIII InternationalAward of Graphic organised with thecollaboration ofthe Fondazione Musei Civici ofVenice.
Monte Vidon Corrado. In 2014, at the Casa Museo of Osvaldo Licini in Monte Vidon Corrado, there was the retrospective “Siderea mensura”. In July, in the wonderful village of Novilara, there was the opening of the graphic arts exhibition “La grande misura”. Moreover, the new Ca’ Pesaro space, in Pesaro, launched its activities with the exhibition “Promenade opere dal 1972 a oggi”, by Roberto Budassi, art historian and professor of the Urbino Art Institute.
On his birthday,Thursday 22 October 2015, Walter Valentini finished the “Aldebaran” cyclewith a bigbronze “moving sculpture” and some other different ones as well as tiles andboard works shown at the Galleria Marini in Milan, with the written contribution in the catalogue by architect Mario Botta.
From 6 to 25 February 2017, at the Biblioteca Isontina of Gorizia there was theexhibition “Aurea sectio librorum, the ex libris of Walter Valentini”, curated by Claudio Stacchi and Luigi Bergomi.
Exhibition promoted by
Comune della Spezia
Mayor, Massimo Federici
Concillor forCultural Development, Luca Basile
and set up by
CAMeC, Centro Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
with the contribution of
Curated by: Marzia Ratti
Contribution in the exhibition and the catalogue by: Mario Botta, Roberto Budassi, Enzo Di Martino, Marzia Ratti, Gian Carlo Torre
Technical-scientific coordination and organisation: Eleonora Acerbi with Francesca Maria Tripodi Loans: Archivio dell’Artista
Catalogue: Silvana Editoriale, Milano
Exhibition and catalogue photos: Andrea Valentini
Graphic coordination: Sarah Fontana
Press Office: Federica Stellini, Luca Della Torre, Comune della Spezia