May 4 – June 10, 2017
Exhibition venue: Rome – Berardi Gallery
Organization: By Matteo Piccioni
Event: Renato Tomassi (1884-1972). From secessions to magical realism
Self-taught, scrupulous observer and skilled draftsman, successful portraitist of the members of the German colony residing in the capital, Renato Tomassi represented the personality who, better than any other, embodied the passion for the Central European secessionist culture that characterized Rome in the early twentieth century. Considered the main Roman follower of the Germans Otto Greiner and Sigmund Lipinsky,
Tomassi took from these the ideas to build, at the beginning of the century, a personal language characterized by linear tension and lucid analytical ability that is completely original; although distant from the avant-garde movements, he nevertheless proved to be an important element of that connective tissue which, with his gaze turned beyond the Alps, constituted one of the fields of elaboration of the most advanced languages.
In the aftermath of the Great War, the artist then became one of the most sought-after Roman portrait painters – the Portrait of Irene Ibsen (private collection), grandson of the famous Norwegian playwright, exhibited at the first Roman Biennale in 1921, represents one of its high points – a genre that he carried on together with more intimate and private subjects, with landscapes of the Roman countryside, up to public works, the best known of which is the mosaic decoration of the church of San Roberto Bellarmino, in Rome.
The selection of works exhibited at the Berardi Gallery, some unpublished, give an account of the stylistic and personal evolution of the Roman artist, from the ink and pastel portraits of the first fifteen years of the twentieth century full of German and Central European echoes (a late example Austrian airplanes, 1917), up to the work of maturity, which travel on the double track of a pasty and material painting that characterizes the paintings made in Capri in 1923 (The terrace and window in Capri) and of a linearism animated by colors clear and bright typical of the interior portraits of the 1920s and 1930s, in which time seems suspended, almost a personal interpretation of the contemporary Magic Realism (My wife, 1926 and Portrait of Andrea, 1932).
A small section of the exhibition is also dedicated to the works performed after moving to Germany in 1936, where the artist reworked in a personal way, with undone brushstrokes and saturated colors, motifs and stylistic features of German expressionism.
At the center of the exhibition are the two portraits of attendants made by Tomassi in 1917 (My attendant and In pose) when he was an officer during the war, in Trento, which demonstrate, in the photographic composition and in the freedom of the brushstroke, a great ability of artist to reinvent himself continuously.
The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph by Matteo Piccioni, with an introduction by Cinzia Virno, which critically traces the entire artistic parable of Tomassi focusing on the contextualization of his work and evaluating – beyond the stylistic evolution – the artistic and cultural relationships of the painter, the main influences, exhibitions and critical reception, in order to bring out his position among the protagonists of the Roman twentieth century.