Luigi Ontani

Sperone Westwater

When Bolognese artist Luigi Ontani first began to exhibit, in 1970, his work must have seemed radically surprising in that it was nakedly self-referential. This would have been rare in much cutting-edge ’60s art, with its address of formal, material, and conceptual issues or else, in Pop and its kin, of public culture; and if the painting most prominent in the late ’40s and 50s was often read as expressing or exploring self, it was thought to do so rather impersonally, in a philosophical, existential, literally abstract way. (Even the work of an artist like Jasper Johns, arguably full of self-revelatory clues, is notorious for coding and disguising them.) Ontani, on the other hand, collapses his production into his own persona. In fact, he has described his work as “the adventure I live as a person of art,” and the most obvious device binding his diverse oeuvre (objects of many kinds,

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