Carlo Battaglia (Italian/Sardinian, 1933-2005) was an Italian artist whose activity spanned over four decades. His time in Sardinia, both at the beginning and end of his life, heavily influenced his paintings, which are often of serene seascapes.
After Battaglia’s compulsory induction into the Italian military service, he committed himself to painting and practiced by recreating works of Modernist masters like Henri Matisse. Seeking education and inspiration, Battaglia wanted to study works by contemporary artists in Italy. However, he found that accessing contemporary art was easier in other countries, so he travelled to Kassel, Paris, and London to learn. Here, Battaglia understood the importance of seeing art firsthand. He was heavily inspired not only by the scenery of Italy and Paris, but also by American contemporary painters. Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Ad Reinhardt were significantly influential to Battaglia, who spent six months in 1967 painting in Rothko’s studio in New York City.
Battaglia was invited to show at the Venice Biennale in 1970, 1978 and 1980, exhibiting his Maree (Tides) series for the first time in 1970. In this crucial show, Battaglia introduced a theme of the sea that would be prominent throughout his life. His most important early exhibitions were held at Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 1967, Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara in 1976, and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1978.
Throughout his career, Battaglia fought against being labelled or analyzed within any particular movement. However, Battaglia’s art is integrated within the Pittura Analitica movement of the Italian Post-war period. Like other artists of the Pittura Analitica movement, Battaglia was fascinated with his medium of paint, and his works demonstrate a focus on the expressive potential of the medium itself. Beginning 1970, Battaglia participated in all of the most important Pittura Analitica exhibitions, despite his reservations in identifying himself and his art within the movement. Unlike his peers, he did not care for fame or exhibiting his art. Instead, Battaglia travelled often and produced a considerably large body of work.
Beginning in the 1980s, Battaglia isolated himself, painting in solitude in his hometown of La Maddalena. Later in life he focused on serene seascapes, studying the ocean, rain, and clouds and experimenting with different ways to depict water in paint. He worked with the fluidity of his medium, using it to convey depth of space, and to create the illusion of light and shadow with layers of paint. For Battaglia, painting became a metaphor of landscape, and landscape a metaphor of painting.
In 2005 Carlo Battaglia died in La Maddalena, Sardinia.