Sexto Canegallo, born in Genoa Sestri in 1892, studied with Ligurian painter Lazzaro Luxardo (1865-1949) and then attended Tullio Salvatore Quinzio’s (1858-1918) courses at the Accademia Ligustica in Genoa.
The Approach to Divisionism
The young painter’s first step away from academic painting was taken with his approach to Divisionism by Plinio Nomellini (1866-1943), Angelo Morbelli (1859-1919) and especially Rubaldo Merello (1872-1922).
Canegallo’s early Divisionist paintings are still directed towards realist themes, as can be seen in the work Ragazzo ardimentoso. However, after moving to Milan in 1914, the painter approached the figure of Romolo Romani (1884-1916) and was profoundly impressed by his Symbolist compositions of an international nature, also crossed with Futurist suggestions and an abstractionism of a mystical and prismatic nature.
A mystical and esoteric symbolism
Oil and pastel are the media used by Canegallo to best render his characteristic abstract and suspended colour interpenetrations that reflect the spiritualistic-hermetic theories of the Rosicrucians in images. These studies gave rise to the cycle dedicated to the human psyche, exhibited in the foyer of the Teatro Argentina (where he made the acquaintance of Sem Benelli, who was equally interested in esoteric theories) and then at the Carlo Felice in Genoa, which includes works such as Uomo finito, Megalomane, Mistico. While the cycle of human sensations includes paintings such as Diamante nero (Black Diamond) and Cadenze melanconiche (Melancholic Cadences). Waves and, hatching and dynamic lines of light branch out from figures, faces and objects, together with alchemical and esoteric symbols.
In 1925, Sexto Canegallo held a very successful solo exhibition in Paris. In the same year, the painter retired to his home town of Sestri to continue the hermetic and pictorial research that has characterised him since his early days. Among his most significant works are Terror, Fear, Joy, Impression, Social Energy, always dedicated to human sensations. Specchi d’acqua (Water Mirrors), Fiamma ossidrica (Blowtorch), Mattina (Morning), Pomeriggio (Afternoon), Sera (Evening), Visione (Vision), Estasi (Ecstasy), Aspirations (Aspirations) are instead works that reveal man’s primordial needs, the moments of the day symbolising those of life, allegories of existence itself. He died in Sestri Ponente in 1966.