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Pino Pascali at Camden Arts Centre

Work by Pino Pascali

Exhibition preview

THIS March, Camden Arts Centre is presenting the first solo exhibition in a British gallery by Italian artist Pino Pascali (1936-1968).

Entitled ‘…a multitude of soap bubbles which explode from time to time….’ Pino Pascali’s Final Works, 1967 – 1968, it will be on display from March 4 to May 1, 2011.

The exhibition focuses on his work in 1967 and 1968, the years in which the artist became associated with the phenomenon of Arte Povera, the radical trend in Italian art towards using everyday materials in resonant and seemingly unambiguous combinations.

While Arte Povera has retained its importance for audiences and artists, there has never been a show in Britain devoted solely to Pino Pascali’s work. With loans from public and private collections in Austria, Britain, France and Italy, this show will introduce a wider British audience to an artist who remains surprisingly little known.

Yet his place in art history is undisputed alongside Giovanni Anselmo, Jannis Kounellis, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Gilberto Zorio and others synonymous with Arte Povera.

At the core of this exhibition will be the work Pascali made for his one-person presentation at the XXXIV Venice Biennale in 1968. Using steel wool, coloured fun fur, feathers and straw, Pascali created a visually exciting and texturally appealing installation.

Among the forms on view were a possible drawbridge, two giant hairy mushrooms, a massive house of cards and a shield pierced by eagles’ quills. The show closed after two days when the artist withdrew his work because of student unrest in the city and the police response.

Early in September 1968 Pascali died, aged 32, following a road accident.

Augmenting works first seen at Venice that year will be sculptures that show Pascali’s interest in natural themes connected with sea and the land. From 1967, he used overtly man-made materials to make fake silk worms in brightly-coloured acrylic; an oversized blue spider in fun-fur (Vedova Blu); a nest of raffia and synthetic fur; and tools reminiscent of agriculture.

Trained as a set designer, Pascali worked in television and film, a career he could only afford to abandon in 1967 to concentrate full-time on art.

The selection of this exhibition highlights this artist’s complexity as a maker. His career has considerable relevance for generations of artists today as his work ran contradictory notions of reality and artificiality in parallel, and contrasted conventions of fixed form with an aesthetic infused with playfulness and a preference for shapes that could be manipulated on the spot.

Like his mentor Michelangelo Pistoletto, whose solo exhibition Oggetti in meno (Minus Objects) 1965-1966 was held at Camden Arts Centre in 1991 (the first by this major figure in a British public gallery), Pascali refused to be identified with a particular style or technique.

He believed in tapping fact and imagination simultaneously and in never repeating the same work. “I am like a serpent,” he once wrote, “each year I change my skin.”

‘…a multitude of soap bubbles which explode from time to time…’ Pino Pascali’s final works, 1967 – 1968 has been initiated and selected by writer Martin Holman; and organised by Camden Arts Centre, with support from The Henry Moore Foundation.

The exhibition title is a quote from Pascali in an interview about his work with Carla Lonzi in 1967.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm; Wednesdays late from 10am to 9pm; closed Mondays.

Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London, NW3 6DG

Tel: 020 7472 5500

Fax: 020 7472 5501