One hundred and twenty three

Un amour doré

c1970 by Vanni Saltarelli
Galerie Damon, Poitiers (temporary exhibition)

Italian born Vanni Saltarelli graduated from the Milan School of Art ‘del Castello’ in 1965. His paintings almost immediately found their focus in the female form; it is women who run rife throughout his compositions, their bodies exquisitely conjured from his fiery and fragmented backgrounds. The movement in his paintings is quite astounding, fuelled by these cascading shapes that flutter across the canvas. There is Cubist inspiration in this way of working, but Saltarelli takes it one step further with his play of texture and layering. His shapes are built up, translucent shadows or intense blocks of colour, linearly governed or explosions in a scattering of paint. It is pure energy, as with the Cubists, that unleashes these monuments of painterly abstraction; the figure’s hair in this work multiplying under a fire of what is underlying. This surrealism, the painting of shape and feeling rather than subject, is echoed in the atmosphere of his paintings, which let imagination run wild. Here the main figure stares resolutely into the face that hovers directly opposite; her reflection or a lover, the face is forbiddingly drained of colour, a shadowy antithesis to her fiery intensity, where red spreads like ink across her skin. The quality with which Saltarelli paints skin is quietly and sensually evocative despite the ferocity of the surrounding painterly expression, capturing the curved smooth of back and the honed hollow of cheek, a testimony to his concentration or indeed celebration of the human form.

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