To cherish our visitors in these pandemic times, April in Paris is proud to present an online exhibition strictly focused on the Italian painter Salvo and on his dreamy landscapes.
In a surreal simplicity, combining the rigor of De Chirico and the naivety of Rousseau, Salvo’s bright and graphic patterns can be placed in the grey zone between abstraction and figuration. In this mystical limbo his talent appears, looming over the luminescent and enchanted landscapes portrayed in each and one of his unique paintings.
“Talking about your work is like trying to grasp mercury. Yet, I could be considered to belong to that category of artists who express themselves through ecstasy: I cannot help but believe in the existence of those occult forces which, while the painter sleeps, enter the painting itself and correct and improve it.”
Salvo (excerpt taken from Il Foglio, for the catalogue Boijmans Van Beuningen, December 1987).
Cézanne, Rousseau, the Fauves. The iconographical library that inspires Salvo’s subjects is certainly a vast one; his linguistic expression is in its various aspects the result of comparison and reflection with regard to other time- honoured languages that have somehow disintegrated and been transformed out of recognition, as though by magic. Nevertheless, we can definitely say that the constants in his means of expression are the interplay of solids, a sense of stupefaction and enchantment, a vivid palette, pure ‘nature’.
“I have always liked the ambiguous aspect of things: false primitivism, false naivety, false uncultured and false stupid, because I find everything that is consciously intelligent or technical extremely annoying. It leaves no mystery…”
He was the most reactionary of the Italian painters. He was born poor in the poorest Sicily, in Leonforte, and his name was Salvatore Mangione but, since he lived as the son of an emigrant in the Turin of the signs ‘do not rent to the southerners’, to mislead the Savoy he called himself only Salvo.
In 1973 he was already a name of the so-called Arte Povera, leaden and punitive environment, where “painting a flower was more scandalous than peeing in the middle of the gallery”. As a reaction, he began to paint colorful landscapes, indignant at the beguines of the artistically correct. Despite the beguines Salvo was successful, his archetypal and playful landscapes have been selling like hot cakes for decades, satisfying very deep, pre-intellectual needs for serenity and beauty. We mourn an artist whose teaching goes beyond art: even in the most hostile contexts a human reaction is possible, a happy resistance to the dominant nihilism.
Camillo Langone, 2015