Critics’ Picks

View of “Oscuro/Orizzontale/Verticale,” 2018.

View of “Oscuro/Orizzontale/Verticale,” 2018.


Nelio Sonego

A arte Invernizzi
Via D. Scarlatti 12
November 21, 2018–February 6, 2019

Visitors to the main room of Nelio Sonego’s two-floor, site-specific exhibition encounter what appears to be the aftermath an earthquake. Instead of being conventionally aligned, the canvases in “Oscuro/Orizzontale/Verticale” (Dark/Horizontal/Vertical), each made in 2018, have been hung aslant and at times overlap with one another, as if to choreograph a kind of stuttered dance of vertical forms. While the free gestural marks that are characteristic of this artist—who has been a prominent figure of Italian abstract painting since the late 1970s—are on display, a new vigor charges the titular suite. Each surface is traversed by essential lines, which are mostly black (per the Oscuro of the show’s title), though a canvas scored by a lone red dash provides a subtle motif. These spray-painted contours warp, tilt, and intersect with one another in unexpected but assured gestures, guided, as Francesco Gallo Mazzeo writes in the catalogue, by an “inner music.” Not only do the resulting geometries extend beyond their individual boundaries, they also seem to confer a terrestrial vibration through their expressive tension of chromatic epiphanies—or, if you will, aftershocks.

The roots of Sonego’s recent consideration of the line—line as spatially generative, line as something listened to, line as arrangeable destiny—can be found on the gallery’s upper floor. The series titled “Strutturale” (Structural), 1979–80, and “Untitled,” 1978, depict mathematically inflected successions of linear symbology and convey the dialectic between black and red, motion and stillness, that typifies Sonego’s newest work.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.