Born in Valona in 1942, Luigi Voltolina arrives in Venice at the age of two, with the repatriation of his family. His artistic passion finds previous encouragement in the same family environment: his cousin Nello Voltolina had been one of the protagonists of Veneto Futurism in the 1930s and 1940s and his cousin Pino Ponti, one of the protagonists of the Corrente Milanese environment. It will be thanks to the latter that he will soon come into contact with the greatest exponents of the Milanese and Venetian art world. In the meantime he graduated in Graphic Arts at the Venice Art Institute, following the teachings of Mario Dinon. Immediately after, he worked for a short time at the F.lli Toso glassworks in Murano. He received his first official recognition in 1958, with the participation in a competition at the Petrochemical of Marghera, where he won the first prize for painting with a still life.
The real debut, however, came in 1963 with a solo show in
Venice, at the Venice gallery, curated by Federico Castellani, where he
exhibited themes of everyday life and portraits. In the lagoon city he met
Armando Pizzinato, Emilio Vedova, Luigi Tito, Vittorio Basaglia, Virgilio
Guidi, in Milan he established fertile contacts with Gabriele Mucchi, Remo
Brindisi. These and other acquaintances allow him to approach the most advanced
Italian researches in the figurative and abstract pictorial field, helping him
to avoid the pitfalls of academic and provincial language.
In 1967 he took part in the 12 Italian Artists collective at the Worness Gallery in New York: it was his first contact with the city that would become his city of choice starting from the 1990s.
The professional turning point began in 1972 with the move to Rome, in a studio in Vicolo della Palomba, near Piazza Navona. He lives with enthusiasm the stimulating climate of the capital, the heated discussions, the artistic and literary encounters, also sharing the experience with his wife Serena. He makes friends with the artists Salvatore Provino, Ennio Calabria, Ugo Attardi and frequents the literary environment of Gabriella Sobrino, of the publisher Massimo Riposati, of the writer Guglielmo Petroni. Very attracted to poetry, he began to collaborate with publishing houses: with the CIDAC (Italian Center for the Diffusion of Art and Culture directed by Ennio Moricco) he published two poems and two engravings entitled Relitti e Vita, in the anthology of etchings and poems Il sign e la word (1973); for Rebellato Editore he made the cover of the poetic text by Ismail Kadarè, A Cosa questo montagne (1974).
In recent years his work has gradually acquired a more complex compositional and figural tension: the initial gaze turned to the Cézannian and Picassian teaching, expressionist up to the values of contemporary objectivity of the new realism - from Guttuso to Zigaina to Vespignani - is undermined from a need for personal synthesis, which also includes Baconian dramatic ancestry. The execution becomes rapid, sharp, disturbing, capable of overturning every reference and cliché of the figuration. The search for the pictorial rendering of dynamism, also free from futurist references, becomes a primary necessity so as to distort the compositional focus of the images, creating real "splitting" of the figures and lines of flight that seem to go beyond the constricting perimeter of the supports.
The pictorial results of the Roman artistic experience immediately found good feedback: in Paris, in a personal exhibition at the Italian Chamber of Commerce (1972); at the X Quadriennale in Rome, The New Generation (1975), invited with The Three Ages and Kafka's Dream; at the Biennale di Thiene he won first prize with an oil painting of a female nude.
Since the end of the 1970s he has also repeatedly exhibited Geneva at the Court-Du-Cygne Gallery.
In 1977 he left Rome and definitively returned to his studio on Calle della Testa in Mestre, where the family had moved in the meantime.
In 1979 he founded the "Situazione" group in Milan, with Tiziano Bertacco, Aurel Ionescu, Airval, Massimo Marchesotti, Michele Damiani, Enzo Sacheli. The group broke up after about three years, but with some of them continued to participate in exhibitions of murals in various Italian cities: in Gardone Riviera (1979); at the second international exhibition of murals in Cala'mpiso in Sicily, where he performs The Three Ages of Man, an allegory selected among the best by Adrè Verdet, official critic of the review (1979); in Lomazzo in Brianza (1981); in Belpasso (1981); in Fiesso (1984); in Aprica in Valcanonica (1985); in Gardone (1985).
From the early 1980s he resumed contacts with the Murano glassworks to create glass sculptures, making use over time of the collaborations of the most qualified glass masters such as Loredano Rosin, Pino Signoretto, Walter Furlan, Mario Dei Rossi. These sculptures, as well as other small bronze sculptures, are inspired by the themes of the paintings and will rarely be exhibited to the public because the artist produces them almost exclusively for himself.
From the first years of the decade, the following participations are worth mentioning: in the Comisso prize in Treviso (1981); at the 1982 Biennale, at Palazzo Papadopoli, a collateral event to the XL Venice Biennale, organized by the Venetian Artistic Cultural Center (1982); at the exhibition of sketches for painted walls in Sacca Fisola, at the Bevilacqua La Masa Gallery in Venice (1982); at the 3rd Biennial of Art City of La Spezia (1983); at the VI Biennale Triveneta delle Arti at Villa Simens Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta (1983); at the Arco 83 International Fair in Madrid, where he exhibits with the Enrique Gomez art studio.
The literary collaborations also continue: in 1983 is the drawing, Il poeta nella storia, for the cover of the poem La storia in rima (published by the London University Press) written by his friend Giuliano Dego, with whom he has already had cultural exchanges between Venice and London.
In 1984 he went to Spain invited to exhibit with a personal exhibition in the halls of the Italian Embassy in Madrid.
The meeting with Madrid becomes a harbinger of something he has been looking for for some time. The turning point goes towards more instinctual and irrational territories than painting which, also incorporating the culture of the Informal, free the figures from many anatomical constraints. It finds in the popular culture of flamenco dance and in the movements of the toreadores the ideal subjects to express opposing feelings, dramatic and vitalistic. The result is a large series (Spanish notebook) of paintings, gouaches, drawings, graphics of portraits and figures that immediately found wide acceptance.
Also in Madrid he collaborates with some newspapers: with three recordings for the literary poetry magazine "Arrecife" (1987) and on the cover for the flamenco magazine "Candil", n. 58 (1988).
Among the exhibitions of this period, the following are worthy of note: the traveling collective in France, Nuovo Espressionismo (1984); the solo exhibition at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva (1985); the collective exhibition at Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice (1986); 45 painters tell about sport at the Foro Italico, an exhibition in conjunction with the Hundred Days of Sport at the Foro Italico in Rome (1986); the Malta International Biennial of Art (1988); the personal, The courage to be wrong, at the Santa Maria delle Grazie Institute in Mestre (1989) accompanied, not surprisingly, by a sound setting composed for the occasion by Sandro Zane. Like poetry, music has always had a special place for Luigi Voltolina, especially jazz from the other side of the ocean. This interest also leads him to meet the trumpeter Miles Davis (first in Brescia then, in 1988, in Castelfranco) and to
have it among its collectors. With him she finds a special human and artistic understanding. Some studies come out, two oil portraits (from 1988 and '89, owned by the musician) and some serigraphs that will compose a portfolio of portraits together with contemporary ones dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Francis Bacon. The Folder will be presented in 1990, on the occasion of the release of his first monographic catalog, Voltolina, with a critical text by Enrico Crispolti and a portfolio by Fulvio Roiter. The catalog, focused on the production of works from the 1980s and 1990s, will open the happy season of his overseas solo shows.
The nineties opened under the banner of exhibition continuity with Spain: in 1991 at the Enrique Gomez Gallery, in Madrid; in 1992 at the Batik International Art in Barcelona; in the same year he also exhibited in America, at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.
In 1994 he was in New York for the first time, guest of Monsignor Renato Martino, Archbishop of the city. The impact with Manhattan is really strong, as he had wished and imagined. He stayed there for two months and returned with a large amount of travel notes (studies, sketches, sketches), the real humus of the next cycle of works of the years 1994-'95. On that occasion the collaboration with the Juno Gallery begins.
New York, as Madrid had been ten years earlier, becomes a veritable viaticum for further reflections. This time the rhythm of life is not flamenco, but the rhythm of the city itself that incorporates the figures into its space to the point of confusing the human dimension with the architectural and urban one. The figures of these years get longer, they become gears of an unstoppable motion, once again tragic and vitalistic at the same time. Fascinated and disturbed by the encounter with the "new world", he will create a figure-space union where the verticalizing sign emergence makes the interpenetration of human shapes in the surrounding space "abstractly natural". The rhythm of the compositions follows the exasperated geometric trajectories of the skyscrapers, of the excited metropolitan proceeding, enhancing his innate capacity for gestural synthesis.
From 1994, among the solo shows, to remember: at the Zammarchi Gallery in Milan (1994); at the Museum of Modern Art of Gazzoldo degli Ippoliti (1994); to the Court of Justice of the European Community in Luxembourg (1996); at the Municipal Art Gallery of Hesperange (LU) (1998). Among the numerous group exhibitions: Art '96, international exhibition in Miami (1996); at the Palazzo dei Trecento in Treviso (1996); at Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta (1996); at the Needien Gallery in Berkelland (NL).
The year 2000 begins under the banner of confrontation between New York and Venice. It is an artist's need to deepen the relationship with the two cities that are particularly close to his heart for different reasons. With this aim, the Notes Venezia New York catalog and three personal exhibitions are born: at the Bugno Art Gallery in Venice and at the Auditorium Comunale in Chiampo. Two years later, in 2002, at the Juno Gallery in New York.
Also in 2000, he participated in an important exhibition on mosaic, Mosaico è, at Villa Manin di Passariano. On display the works of twenty-eight well-known Italian contemporary artists, reinterpreted with the mosaic, with the collaboration of the students. Enthusiastic about the experience, he will return several times as a guest of the Mosaic School of Friuli in Spilimbergo, until the internship in February 2008.
Among the other exhibitions of the first half of 2000, the following are worthy of note: the small anthology in Villanova di Prata; the traveling exhibition Venice-Rome-Florence; Art message of peace, at the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice (2003); the personal exhibition at the Art Museum of Splendor in Giulianova Alta (2004); in autumn; the retrospective at the Galleria Santo Stefano in Venice (2004); Third Image: Luigi Voltolina and Diego Landi, at the Candiani Cultural Center in Mestre (2004). Voltolina
intervenes in the photographs taken by his friend Landi during concerts to some great jazz musicians, renewing his interest in musical tangencies.
Since the beginning of 2000, the need for a further synthesis has been gaining ground, centered on the expressive value of the graphic sign, with its extemporaneous values. The handwriting becomes a sort of mysterious figurative trace coexisting with the surrounding space which, in the meantime, has also taken possession of the value of the void. The research of synthesis, announced with the "American" works, reaches unprecedented results since the end of the Nineties with the series of "modular" and "horizontal" paintings and is also grafted on to a chromatic rethinking: the coloristic co-presences are reduced up to almost two-tone effects, especially modulated by the material preciousness of the whites.
2007 is the year of the great retrospective in Berlin, invited by the Italian Cultural Institute. The exhibition brings together the most significant works of the last ten years and also some glass sculptures from mid-2005. (Catalog: Recent Works, with an introduction by Massimo Donà).
In 2009, on the occasion of the LIII Venice Biennale, he exhibited about twenty works at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia, from the first half of the 1980s to recent years; in the same year, it reconfirms its presence in Manhattan with some works in the exhibition area of the Zorzi NYC.
2012 opens with two important invitations to the institutional sphere of Venetian glass art: the first to the Murano Glass Museum for the Murrino Glass exhibition, from Altino to Murano, where he participates with The Master's Dowry, a work done specifically for the occasion, depicting a crystal "24 hours" full of colored murrine, in memory of the New York workmen and the Venetian color luminescence; the second at the Abate Zanetti School, at the 2012 Murano Award. The artist works for a week on the realization of the work, in synergy with the master glassmaker Giancarlo Signoretto, also involving the students of the school.
The great anthology, Luigi Voltolina, closes the 2012 exhibition activity. Works / works 1962/2012, at Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta.
In the occasion of the centenary of the Great War (2015) he
created an impressive public work, Numquam in bello, dedicated to peace; six
meters high and made entirely of corten steel, it is located in front of the
nine guns of Mount Fortin in Farra d’Isonzo (GO).
2019. M9 - Multimedia Museum of the 1900s in Mestre, announces the first edition of the "M9 Award" for innovation, dedicated to the important director and screenwriter Ermanno Olmi, and consisting of a glass sculpture created by Luigi Voltolina in collaboration with the master glassmaker Mario Furlan.
2019-2020. The VOLTOLINA exhibition "Trajectories of appearing - Works 1970-2019" is inaugurated, Gianni Ambrogio Foundation, Mareno di Piave (TV). Curated by Michele Beraldo and Dino Marangon.
© 2020 Luigi Voltolina