in the Small Hall of the Veletržní Palace
Dukelských hrdinů 47, 170 00 Praha 7
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery in Prague - Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art in cooperation with Vernon Fine Art International
Prague gallery visitors and the professional public had their first opportunity to become acquainted with the painting of Leonardo Cremonini forty years ago (1967) at the exhibition “Premio Marzotto”, where the artist was awarded the Grand Prix. The show, held in the Wallenstein Riding School Gallery in Prague, presented several recently executed works.
Two years later, in 1969, before the so-called normalization period began in Czechoslovakia, 49 Cremonini works were presented in the Collection of Modern Art of the National Gallery in Prague. The paintings on display were selected from his retrospective exhibition organized for the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium. The exhibition represented a cross-section of Cremonini’s work of the previous ten years (1957–1968). The show’s authenticity was enhanced by the fact that the artist himself selected the Prague exhibits. The artist’s Prague exhibition elicited a great deal of attention, even instigating debate on the search for similar points of departure for discussions of Czech art.
Leonardo Cremonini (born 1925 in Bologna, Italy) is one of the world’s most prominent artists. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna (1939–1944) and Brera Academy (1945–1950) in Milan. He has lived in Paris since 1951. In 1983, he was appointed a professor at L’Ecole nationale des beaux-arts in Paris.
Cremonini’s work is difficult to classify by contemporary standards. He paints in classic oil technique on large, regular format canvases. He employs a dripping colour technique, unthinkable without surrealism or austere geometric painting. The perspectival shortcuts and spatial construction of his paintings are based on elements of the Italian tradition transformed by modern experience. In Cremonini’s paintings, plants, animals, rocks, objects and people are bearers of subtle psychological content and protagonists in everyday human dramas imbued with an ineffable mystery. Cremonini paints people in the most intimate situations as they go about their quotidian tasks, which he can endow with deep and exceptional meaning. Interiors, frames, bathrooms and mirrors whose play of reflections reflect not only things, but also absent beings, are likewise a key motif of Cremonini’s work. His maritime scenes, in which he uncompromisingly subdues the depicted landscape, are also typical of everydayness, with simple forms of beach walls and structures approaching an austere geometry in their vocabulary. Children’s games, in reality representing the game of life and the quest to communicate with an intimate, are a frequent theme of his paintings. The theme of love, too, often appears in his work, albeit marked by disillusion. Although his themes are things and situations around us or “cut-outs of reality” familiar to all, his paintings create a special and alarming impression.
The work of this major artist has inspired many philosophers and writers, among them Umberto Eco, Louis Althusser, Gilbert Lascault, Michel Butor, Alberto Moravia, Italo Calvino and Milan Kundera. It has been displayed in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Paris, Tokyo, New York and is represented in many public and private collections.
The current National Gallery in Prague exhibition presents a broad array of Leonardo Cremonini’s artworks done in 1953–2005. The artist himself selected the works for this exhibition, including some recent paintings that have never before left his studio.