Matteo Massagrande, a native of Padua, has become both an outstanding contemporary Italian painter and a seminal artist of the figurative representational movement in European painting. His works are exhibited alongside the art of such masters as Lopez Garcia, David Hockney, and Vincent van Gogh.
The cornerstone of his artistic credo is to establish continuity between the past and the present, integrating the time-honored values of art history with the innovative endeavors of modern painting and its tendency towards experimentation. His work is a continuation of the purest tradition of Venetian painting, in which, for centuries, color and light have remained the most important means of expression.
Massagrande artfully manipulates the diverse possibilities inherent in material. The scratched, cracked surfaces of his works made a few years ago were reminiscent of antique frescos, while the powerful chiaroscuro of the latest paintings produces an extremely exciting facture that makes the humblest crack in the plasterwork, the tiniest patch of flaking paint, monumental in effect.
A dominant effect of Massagrande’s painting is silence, the capturing of motionless moments in the present while simultaneously referring back to the past and looking forward into the future. While the foreground is frozen in a “lifeless” timelessness, the lush vegetation of the background hints at the possibility of movement and change.
The interlocking rooms and corridors, the backlit interiors, and the diverse geometric patterns of the floor tiles are reminiscent of 17th-century Dutch painting. He combines the linear perspective and strict space-construction of Renaissance painting with an early 20th-century modernist treatment of space.
He uses both cold and warm lights, which now bring out, now blur, the sharp contours and, radiating from all directions, make the colours glow. All these effects create a rhythm for the painting as Massagrande harmonizes the manner in which Vermeer and the Venetian masters treated light with the heritage of 20th-century Italian painting.
What Matteo Massagrande performs is a systematic series of painterly experiments, probing into space, color, perspective, and light. Every one of his works is marked by the desire to articulate an original visual system that stems from classicist principles. This is the ultimate value of his painting and full expression of his artistic philosophy.
View his work in person during the fine art exhibition, “Matteo Massagrande: The Essence of Light and Silence,” which is on view at Pontone Gallery (London) through January 6, 2019.