Along with Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana, Afro is today considered an important example of Italian Abstraction. Initially he explored abstraction in formal terms – focussing on shape, colour and composition. However, he later came to believe that the painting itself should embody the emotion, not just represent it. Afro’s works are often autobiographical, drawing on past memories conjured up some time after the event in order to allow the instant to be recalled through his senses rather than as mental images. Through time, the memory of the moment becomes colour and feeling for him. This is most keenly felt in works such as Estate nell’Orto (Summer in the Vegetable Garden) 1955, where the colour and movement of the painting engage the viewer’s senses and evoke the feeling of a past experience imbued with nostalgia.
This exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Fondazione Archivio Afro, will present around 50 artworks from the 1950s to the 1970s, and the final room will be entirely dedicated to preparatory drawings of Afro’s majestic mural fresco The Garden of Hope.
These drawings, aside from their relation to UNESCO’s mural, are of great interest as they clearly show how Afro expressed and gathered elements of his past works and redirected them into this magnum opus.
Highlights of the exhibition also include major works, such as Racconti di Guascogna (Tales from Gascony) 1951, and Ragazzo col Tacchino (Boy with Turkey) 1955, which show how Afro’s more symbolic representation of objects and figures shifted to become a purely expressive and emotional form of abstraction.
The accompanying exhibition catalogue is edited by Philip Rylands, Director Emeritus of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, who has also written an original essay for the catalogue.