New York

Giulio Turcato

Giulio Turcato is one of the few postwar Italian artists (along with Carla Accardi and Emilio Vedova) to reconnect painting to its roots in prewar European abstraction. He has done so by developing a non-programmatic, improvisatory approach to composition, color, and materials. This open-ended attitude and receptivity has enabled him to build upon the work and thinking of André Masson and Wassily Kandinsky. One of the keys to Turcato’s accomplishment is his ability to employ mundane materials in a precise, yet imaginative manner. He has used both sand and a highly-refined crystalline powder to develop an uneven ground that switches from physical presence to reflective surface. Turcato’s use of these materials goes beyond the purely formal. Throughout his career, he has investigated a basic fundamental perception: the equation of a painting’s surface with skin. Within Turcato’s cosmology, the skin of a painting is identified both as shifting, glowing light and as rough, tactile presence. In striving against the repressive orders of geometry and gravity, Turcato composes formless, highly saturated, color-filled space in which abstract forms seem to be floating, both weightless and thickly painted. In shifting back and forth between surface and light, Turcato’s paintings evoke the Mediterranean’s glittering knives of sunlight. More importantly and more directly, they propose something new regarding painting’s ongoing project.

Turcato was born in Venice in 1912, and this fact has tempered his imagination and sense of infinite space. Having developed a post-Cubist vocabulary of flattened forms in the late ’40s, Turcato began moving in a different direction, eventually extending the Venetian tradition of subtly articulating space through color. In his recent works, he is able to evoke various speeds, directions, and angles of perception without using linear, painterly gestures to stress velocity and action. His forms, unfettered by either geometry or gravity, float in a realm of intense color and light. By stressing the freedom and sensuality of painting, both formally and as an activity, Turcato has exerted a strong influence on several Italian painters in the past decade.

John Yau