The Querini Stampalia Foundation in Venice hosts the first retrospective of the artist Luigi Pericle (Basel 1916-Ascona 2001), a protagonist of European painting of the late twentieth century, re-emerged after years of forgetfulness.
Author from Basel but, of paternal origin from the Marches (Monterubbiano), Luigi Pericle went through a chapter of art history appreciated by the most famous names in the system: from the collector Peter G. Staechelin to Sir Herbert Read, trustee of the Tate Gallery, from the museologist Hans Hess, curator of the York Art Gallery, to the owners of the Arthur Tooth & Sons gallery in London where he exhibited in the 1960s alongside Appel, Jorn, Tàpies, Dubuffet or Mathieu. However, following an important traveling exhibition hosted in various Anglo-Saxon museums, Pericles suddenly retired to private life. It was 1965. With his wife Orsolina Klainguti, he had already landed since the 1950s in the anarchist paradise of Monte Verità, the famous "hill of utopia" isolated in the woods of the Ticino canton above Ascona, overlooking the northern tip of Lake Maggiore. Here he continued to work, study and reflect in solitude.
Re-emerged from oblivion, today Luigi Pericle is at the center of a great critical and philological recovery project . The plan of study, restoration, conservation, cataloging of his artistic heritage - protected by the "Luigi Pericle Archive" Association - sees in the Venetian exhibition in the context of the six months of the 58 Biennale d'Arte, the first stage of an articulated path of enhancement .
Accompanied by a scientific catalog (Silvana Editoriale), the exhibition aligns 50 works, including paintings on canvas and masonite, as well as inks on paper from the sixties and seventies, the result of an inexhaustible work of reflection on the language of painting and on the intuitive sign as manifestation of inner thrusts and a visionary investigation through the innermost layers of consciousness.
The counter designed by the great architect Carlo Scarpa - author of the restoration of the exhibition area on the ground floor of the Foundation - will host unpublished testimonies, excerpts, autographed notes, analysis exercises and diary pages, together with other graphic works capable of restoring the public's eclectic personality of man, artist and thinker.
Painter, illustrator, man of letters and all-round intellectual, Luigi Pericle was influenced by theosophy and esoteric doctrines, participating in the cultural debate that was determined by these trends over the course of the century. Pericles breathed the mystical air of Monte Verità which welcomed the famous community founded in 1900 by Ida Hofmann and Heinrich Oedenkoven on the Utopian Hill, where the European "counterculture" of the time landed. It is in those same places that, starting from the 1930s, the intellectual adventure of the Eranos meetings took shape, promoted by Carl Gustav Jung (whose Red Book was rediscovered in recent years and exhibited at the 2013 Venice Biennale) and by the Dutch theosophist and painter Olga Froebe-Kapteyn.
A multifaceted man with a thousand interests, Pericle escapes classification and reveals himself as a professional artist as much as a talented cartoonist: in 1951, in fact, he created Max, the marmot protagonist of the homonymous comic without text, destined to become a well-known face, not only in Europe , but also in the United States and Japan. With his work as an illustrator, Pericles acquired international fame and his works were published by the Macmillan publisher of New York and in newspapers and periodicals such as the "Washington Post", "Herald Tribune" or the magazine "Punch". But parallel to this pop activity, his second life as a painter devoted to informal abstractionism saw him obsessively think about particular processing techniques, experimentation on materials, on a daily investigation aimed at bending the lexicon of painting to the needs of the spirit, in search of forms, gestures, symbols, panoramas, creatures, passages and parallel universes that were the reification of the invisible and of a truth existing beyond contingency.
The volumes of literature, philosophy, Egyptian art, theosophy, astrology that crowded his library nourished the versatile knowledge of Pericles, a miraculous source of inspiration not limited to painting but entrusted to thousands of documents studded with horoscopes, ufology writings, crowded notebooks of Japanese ideograms, cosmic symbols, Chinese medicine and homeopathic treatments.
The exhibition promoted by the Association "Luigi Pericle Archive" of Ascona therefore aims to shed light on an author of extraordinary depth who belongs to that category of masters - including Hilma af Klint (whose works were presented at the 2013 Biennale) - who preferred to let their research speak only after their death, giving it an energy that would have made it necessary for its posthumous rediscovery.
After the death of Luigi Pericle, who died without heirs in 2001, his house in Ascona remained closed for fifteen years until, in 2016, purchased by new owners sensitive to the charm of its glorious past, it revealed an immense buried heritage intact. of works and writings, a summa of universal thought cataloged by Pericles with monastic rigor. The exhibition is curated by the critic and historian Chiara Gatti in collaboration with Marco Pasi of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR), Michele Tavola of the Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia and Luca Bochicchio, director of Jorn House Museum of Albisola, AdAC University of Genoa.
The project is sponsored, among others, by: Swiss Confederation Consulate General of Switzerland in Milan, Republic and Canton of Ticino, Ticino Turismo, Monte Verità Foundation of Ascona, Eranos Foundation of Ascona, Cà Foscari University of Venice. The exhibition is supported by the Swiss Foundation for Culture Pro Helvetia.