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Opening of the exhibition “Abstract Art in Italy. Achille Perilli”

On 18 December, as part of the Abstract Art in Italy project, an exhibition of the contemporary artist Achille Perilli, a member of the Forma 1 art group, was formally opened in the General Staff building. The exhibition, which has been organized with the support of the Consulate General of Italy in St Petersburg and the Museo Umberto Mastroianni, presents 35 works by Perilli from that museum in Rome.

“Today we are opening an exhibition of the Italian artist Achille Perilli. It is among the events that have been organized as part of the Hermitage 20/21 project. For several years now, the Hermitage has been acquainting our visitors with a whole variety of contemporary art. These exhibitions often cause a great stir. And today we have a wonderful display telling about abstract art in Italy,” Svetlana Borisovna Adaksina, Deputy General Director of the State Hermitage, said at the ceremony. She greeted everyone on behalf of Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, who is presently in Venice, “which is one more indication that we have very close with Italy and our Italian colleagues.”

“With this exhibition, we are inaugurating the Abstract Art in Italy project, in the course of which we will be showing the works of various artists and holding a whole series of lectures, master classes and conversations about Italy and 20th-century Italian art. This year we have tried to tell about 20th-century Italian art’s great variety. Many of us probably remember the exhibition Arte Povera that presented not only the actual exponents of Arte Povere, but their predecessors as well. And the project Abstract Art in Italy continues that story. We want to show what happened to thinking about abstract art in the Italy of the late 1940s and early 1950s. We are beginning with Achille Perilli, because he is the only artist belonging to the Forma 1 group who is still alive today, It is very important for us to show that abstract art in Italy – strange and marginal, attempting to counter American influence on Italian art – did exist,” said Dmitry Yuryevich Ozerkov, head of the State Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art and the curator of the exhibition.

Achille Perilli was born in 1927 and first became known in artistic circles in connection with the Rome-based group Forma 1 that was active between 1947 and 1951. This association originated at a time of political instability in Italy, when leftist ideas were spreading broadly in society and the clash between Symbolists and Formalists was growing more acute. Together with Carla Accardi, Ugo Attardi and other prominent exponents of Italian post-war Abstractionism, Perilli put out a manifesto in which form pure and simple is proclaimed the only means and goal of art. The group broke up in 1951 but managed to make a significant contribution to art. Perilli’s pictures often contain cubic shapes that reveal their diversity on close inspection. His early works imitate the abstract art of Kandinsky and Klee, determining the course of development for later works, where he would reject canonical space and perspective. Subsequently, the artist would concentrate on an aggregation of dynamic structures as well as the connection of seemingly opposite elements. The crystal pure colours of the works, the varied scales in the representation of lines and surfaces coupled with the smoothing of the sharp elements with rounded shapes make up what the artist himself describes as his “geometrically irrational” art.

The exhibition “Abstract Art in Italy. Achille Perilli” is part of the larger Hermitage 20/21 project that aims to collect, exhibit and study art of the 20th and 21st centuries. A brochure has been brought out for the exhibition by the publishing house Il Cigno GG Edizioni.

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