On another canvas, a castle with spiers and weather vanes in the wind, in the middle of a lake, perhaps alludes to the nostalgic memory of his native Switzerland. And then zebras, lionesses, bloody hunting scenes, the fight between a cheetah and a snake, foxes with the booty in their mouths, a circus scene with the tamers surrounded by lions with their jaws wide open.
Fierce, visionary, at times tragic, the universe of Antonio Ligabue is shown in Modena in all its poignant beauty. The struggle for survival where the victim succumbs to the executioner and is sacrificed gives way to the scenes of work in the fields that see peasants and beasts as protagonists, ungainly men who seem to fade into the animal.
From September 16th to February 5th the path from the title Antonio Ligabue. The shadowless hour. Recognition as an artist and as a person promoted by La Galleria BPER Banca in collaboration with the Palazzo Magnani Foundation lands in Modena on the occasion of festivalfilosofia of which BPER Banca is the main sponsor, this year dedicated to Justice and therefore strongly connected with the biographical story of the artist, from his exile from Switzerland up to forced admissions to a psychiatric hospital.
Antonio Ligabue, Fox on the run, 1948, Oil on hardboard, 75 x 60 cm
In the spaces of the BPER Banca Gallery, the curator Sandro Parmiggiani entrusts four important paintings belonging to the BPER Banca art collection with the task of guiding the exhibition, which is enriched with works from private collections.
From the relentless fights between wild animals to self-portraits, up to the work scenes in the fields, where realities of the gaze and memories of the lost homeland merge, the public is invited to enjoy an inclusive exhibition path, designed with the contribution of Andrea Isola, which includes about twenty paintings made between 1929 and November 1962, the last period of the artist’s activity, unable to paint for health reasons.
Antonio Ligabue, Plowing with oxen, 1953-54, Oil on hardboard, 645 x 545 cm, BPER Collection
“If you look at Ligabue’s work as a whole – writes the curator Parmiggiani – you realize that he is essentially a tragic artist, who has often represented the most dramatic and painful aspect of life: the struggle to survive or to assert itself, in which a victim succumbs to the executioner and is sacrificed. Of course, there are also scenes of work in the fields, with peasants and cattle, and domestic animals, but in his self-portraits the tragic vision is exercised first of all on himself, on the ungainly man, who seems to have some points of tangency with the animal. Basically, Ligabue saw animals, domestic and ferocious ones, as a constitutive, essential part of creation, which he undertook to save in a sort of “pictorial ark”, convinced that a soul was throbbing in them too and that were an essential part, together with the vegetation, of creation “. Thus, as the curator explains,” Antonio seems to fall, for most of his life, into an abyss of pain and loneliness, within which he is forced to lead the most of its existence. However, he never gives in to the temptation of surrender, of severing the link with existence, of the “refusal of life”, when it comes to choosing a decisive detachment from daily sufferings. Instead, he always tries to climb with difficulty along the slippery walls of that abyss, constantly looking for a dignity and a recognition that he feels he owes him “.
Antonio Ligabue, Return from the fields with Swiss landscape, 1955-57, Oil on hardboard, 93 x 77 cm, BPER Banca Collection
The public will recognize among the works of BPER Banca’s corporate collection Lioness with zebra (1959-60) and Self portrait with tripod (1954-55). The latter portrays the artist himself in the act of painting a rooster in the open countryside, where nature, like the painter, is portrayed in all its primordial vitality. Among the works arriving from private collections, Big game (1929), in which Ligabue portrays himself while contemplating one of his scenes of his struggle for life, and Leopard with snake (1937), emblem of the deprivation of freedom that even the master is undergoing, and finally Self-portrait with flies (1956-1957), open allusion to the end of life.
The exhibition can be visited for free from 16 September to 5 February 2023 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 18. On the occasion of festivalfilosofia the art gallery will be open on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September from 9 to 23, Sunday 18 September from 9 to 21. Christmas closing: 23, 24 and 25 December 2022 and 30, 31 December and 1 January 2023. information on the website de The BPER Gallery.