World Artists and their Story, 31 - Pino Pinelli

World Artists and their Story, 31 - Pino Pinelli

In 2017 I was at the opening of Pino Pinelli’s exhibition of Disseminations. It took place at The Merchant House in Amsterdam, a gallery/art space founded by Marsha Plotnitsky, the Artistic Director. 

The artist was there, with his wife. On the walls there were several of his works hanging in  predominantly red, yellow and blue, an explicit reference to abstract painter Mondrian and the Mondrian Year 2017 in particular.

Toothpaste tube

Pinelli is orginally from Catania, Sicily (1938). He comes from a well-to-do, bourgeois family, with professions such as a notary and a chemist. There were artistic inclinations in the family, but it was difficult to choose that path, Pinelli’s grandfather made it clear when his son, Pino’s father, expressed the idea of becoming an opera singer. ‘’No way.’’

But that proved to be fortunate for the young Pinelli. When father saw that his son was talented in drawing and painting he gave his full hearted support, despite the fact that his son had sometimes used  the content of toothpaste tubes for his paintings. After Pinelli had acquired a teaching qualification he moved up north, to the city were all was happening, Milan.


Pinelli: “Milan was my dream, it was the epitome of splendour. Lucio Fontana was a lighthouse, he spread the light not only in Milan, but throughout the whole of Italy.” Fontana, originally a ceramist, did not want to paint in the classical fashion anymore. Pinelli: “He took science and space in. He started an adventure. His cutting in the canvas was a scandal, but it spoke to the imagination of the young artists, including me.”

In 1968 he held his first solo show in the Galleria Bergamini, where a work was already sold on the morning the show  opened. His art career had taken off. He tried to focus on the connection between tradition and innovation. He paid attention to the painted surface, in particular the ‘’vibration’’ of a painting. He created the two series ‘’Topologie’’ and ‘’Monocromi.’’

Directly on the wall

His studio, his second,  is located at the Via Brera, 23, near the Jamaica Bar, a coffee bar, where he often meets with fellow artists. Once a month he invites young artists into his studio to talk about developments in art, most of them are Zero Art oriented. They adopted an analytic approach. They wanted to cross borders. The question ‘’Can we make works without a list and without canvas?’’ was raised. The answer: let’s do it.

The work was placed directly on the wall, the wall itself was part of the artwork. On the walls of The Merchant House there is a variety of these works to see. And in the film that is shown you can see more: for instance a group of scattered, disseminated, crosses on the wall of the Chiesa San Matteo in Lucca.


These are paintings with a body, they are tactile and there is no objection to touching them. The works are made from Pinelli’s own plaster-like material with a color coating. It looks velvety. In some works are clefts and traces, like a small tractor has gone through. There are more scattered disseminations. One could say his works in the period 1993 to 2012 consist of migrating painterly elements, imitating the gesture of a sower of seeds: the disseminator.

And there is rhythm. In the movie we learn that Pinelli is a great lover of music. One work looks like the strings of a harp, which you can play, in another work you can see black notes next to each other. Pinelli: ‘’Music is construction, like geometry. There is the happiness of inventing. Bach’s music is never tiring. There are many similarities with my work. It’s always a magical moment when I see my work come to life on the wall.’’ .



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