After the great success of the exhibition An artist called Banksy, Palazzo dei Diamanti celebrates, with an anthological retrospective, the human and creative story of Antonio Ligabue .
Ligabue's life is a real novel. An existence dominated by poverty, loneliness, marginalization, redeemed by a boundless love for painting. Born in Zurich in 1899, after a difficult childhood and adolescence, he was expelled from Switzerland and arrived in Gualtieri, in the province of Reggio Emilia, the homeland of his adoptive father in 1919. In the town of the Lower Po Valley, his life remains very hard, marked by hostility, misunderstandings and hospitalizations in psychiatric hospitals. In 1928 he met the artist Renato Marino Mazzacurati, who, recognizing his natural talent, helped him materially and encouraged him to practice the profession.
Brilliant and visionary, "Toni al mat" - the madman, as he was called - finds in artistic practice that "safe place" that it never had, a space, physical and mental, to transform difficulties into opportunities and to give voice to his thoughts. Vittorio Sgarbi - curator of the exhibition together with Marzio Dall'Acqua - underlines this. disease to be rejected in toto ".
The consecration of the painter on a national level will come in 1961 when, thanks to Mazzacurati and Giancarlo Vigorelli, he has the opportunity to exhibit some of his paintings at the La Barcaccia Gallery in Rome. After this solo show, he will arouse the admiration of collectors, critics and art historians more and more, joining the ranks of the great Italian artists of the twentieth century.
The Palazzo dei Diamanti retrospective documents Ligabue's entire career and offers the opportunity to (re) discover the traits and colors of an artist who resists labels and categories that are too rigid to express, like few others, the natural and instinctive strength of his creative fury.
His fantastic and engaging figurative vocabulary will be revealed through 100 works, including paintings, sculptures and drawings, some never exhibited until now: from the famous and intense self-portraits, in which Ligabue notes the essential traits of his personality, to the scenes set in Switzerland, nostalgic memories of childhood; from portraits to still lifes, from rural landscapes, to hunting scenes and snow storms; from domestic animals of the first period, to tigers with wide open jaws, monstrous lions, snakes, birds of prey that seize prey or fight for survival: a real jungle that the artist imagines with hallucinated imagination in the woods of the Po .