Biography of Carlo Battaglia

fotografia di Carlo Battaglia


Carlo Battaglia nasce il 28 gennaio 1933 nell’isola della Maddalena, in Sardegna, ma trascorre l’infanzia a Genova. Vivrà alla Maddalena soltanto dal 1943 al 1947, poi a Roma. Proprio quegli anni vissuti in solitudine in Sardegna lasceranno indelebili tracce nella sua memoria visiva.


After a rather stormy high school, fortuitously he arrives at the Academy of Fine Arts to study scenography. In those years his interests have turned to the theater and cinema. At the Academy, thanks to the lessons of Toti Scialoja, he falls in love with contemporary American painting. His final thesis in art history will be on Jackson Pollock; if published, it would have been the first witness on the american artist appeared in Italy.


After the obligatory military service he focuses exclusively on painting. Conscious of his mediocre manual talent, submits a long training and apprenticeship, comforted by the example of Gorky delight, copying the masters and especially Matisse. In Italy the only chance to see contemporary paintings was represented by the Biennale in Venice. Then he starts traveling across Kassel, Paris, London. To really understand, it’s imperative to realize the dexterity and the size of the originals: it was misleading to be limited at the reproductions. In 1962, he will live for six months in Paris with a scholarship for painting.


However, his real dream remains to see the Matisse in New York, St. Petersburg and Baltimore. Once watched and understood those of the MoMA and of the Cone Collection, he can free himself from Matissian dream. He start exposing later in Rome in 1964, conscious of not having yet developed a really personal style; with the exhibition of 1966 at the Salone Annunciata of Milan, he performs the final exorcism. Carlo Battaglia remembers with affection and gratitude Carlo Grossetti who had dared to expose an artist so obviously out of fashion in its avant-garde gallery.
 In 1967 he stays for six months in New York, working in a studio in Canal Street and becoming friend with Reinhardt, Motherwell and Mark Rothko, who’s studio he attended everyday.


Mark had been his guest and of his wife Carla Panicali - that married in 1972, after a decade-long coexistence - in Rome for two months in 1965. In this way he discovered his true motivations and interests: the ambiguity and the illusion of the world, that he clarifies working on a series of pictures until he consumes, as far as possible, that idea. This is how Mysterious, Dizzy, Visionary show up, to fully examine the relation between fullness and emptiness of the skyscrapers and sky, the game of reflections on the glass walls of the buildings.


In 1970, he is invited in a solo room at the Venice Biennale, exhibiting for the first time Maree, the issue that will involve all his life. The ambiguity, the illusion, the spell of the seascape matches with his boundless love for the sea.


Since the 70’s Battaglia participates in all major exhibitions in Italy and in Europe, of the "New Painting" or "Analytical Painting", as it is said, however, proving a growing unease with the theoretical formulations in which he didn’t really recognized: nevertheless, in percentage he turns out to be the artist most present in exhibitions that refer in various ways to this trend.


Keeps anthological exhibitions in Venice, at Palazzo Grassi in 1974, then in Ferrara, at Palazzo dei Diamanti and at the Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf 1978. He participates in many exhibitions of contemporary Italian art: Selected Paintings and Sculptures, opening exhibition of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington in 1974, I.C.C. Antwerp in 1975, Aalborg and Odense in Denmark, Boymans Museum in Rotterdam in 1977, Hayward Gallery in London, Peter Stuyvesand Collection at the Provincial Museum in Hasselt, Belgium 1982. In Italy, in the museums of Rome, Milan, Turin and so on. In 1980 he was again invited for a solo room at the Venice Biennale.


He isolates himself more and more since the ’80, he began working with egg tempera, according to old Renaissance recipes, and divides his time between Rome and New York to later definitely return to the Maddalena, where he can paint in complete solitude watching the sea from the hill of Sualeddu .


In the research of the secret structure of the landscapes, his paintings become more similar to how the world appears, not imitating but trying to create a "parallel image" of it. His themes mostly remain the seas, the rain, the hail and the illusion of mixed clouds intermingled with the far away coasts. Grasping an image that's already disappeared in the same moment it leaves an impression on the retina. Painting as a metaphor of the scenery, the scenery as a metaphor of painting. To paint means to suggest, more than defining, the secret meaning of objects, the elusiveness of waves, the deepness of space, the constant illusion between light and shadows.
He dies in Maddalena the 17 of January 2005.


Nel 2008 la moglie Carla Panicali, collezionista, mercante e gallerista di fama internazionale, decide di avviare il lavoro di catalogazione delle opere di Battaglia. Un lungo lavoro facilitato dalla grande precisione del pittore, che ha sempre firmato e datato le sue opere. La passione di Carla Panicali, che mai ha interferito con il lavoro del marito, ha permesso a questo catalogo di esistere e di raccontare la meravigliosa avventura di un’intellettuale della pittura.
Carla Panicali left us the 4 of August 2012 at the Maddalena, as Carlo Battaglia, in front of that unconditionally loved sea.