American Art Collector - - Contents - Pon­tone Gallery 43 Cado­gan Gar­dens • Lon­don, UK SW3 2TB • +44 20 7730 8777 • www.pon­tone­

At­mo­spheric Places

Mat­teo Massagrande says, “In ev­ery­one’s past there is a room of which we re­mem­ber the light that it was filled with.”

As an 8-year-old he had a build­ing of such rooms to ex­plore in his aunt’s coun­try villa in Italy. He roamed its park, which was “a mix of very lit­tle spa­ces and am­ple ex­panses of light…It was in­hab­ited by all sorts of an­i­mals, geese, cats, dogs, ducks, enor­mous empty aviaries…and a bam­boo for­est that my 8-year-old eyes were per­ceiv­ing as a jun­gle. The park was all mine. I had the free­dom to ex­plore it in every sea­son, at any time of the day. The villa, on the other hand, was a real mys­tery, save for the few rooms that we were liv­ing in…

“It was a com­pletely new space to me,” he con­tin­ues, “very dif­fer­ent from the city house I was com­ing from… I still re­mem­ber that I was not stricken by its rich­ness but by the at­mos­phere, which I would not have been able to de­scribe as a child but that I can now de­fine: it was a mag­i­cal and mys­te­ri­ous at­mos­phere.” “I was cau­tioned not to climb to the up­per floors, and not to go down in the base­ment…I ob­vi­ously did not fol­low this sug­ges­tion,” he adds. “Every room was filled with dif­fer­ent colors and lights, which were slowly re­veal­ing them­selves while, with­out mak­ing any noise, I was open­ing the blinds of the large or small win­dows…and I was ar­rang­ing the blinds ac­cord­ing to the amount of light that I thought would have made the room beau­ti­ful. Since every room had been dec­o­rated with dif­fer­ent shades of color it seemed to me that every time I was en­ter­ing a dif­fer­ent place…to this day, when­ever I choose to de­pict a place, I am ac­tu­ally open­ing the blinds.”

His paint­ings of empty, once well-loved spa­ces will be shown in an ex­hi­bi­tion at Pon­tone Gallery—the new home of Albe­marle Gallery & Shine Artists in Cado­gan Gar­dens, Lon­don, from Novem­ber 23 to De­cem­ber 31.

The spa­ces are composites, some­times jar­ringly so and some­times very con­vinc­ing. “The idea of space for a pain­ter is not a vol­ume,” Massagrande cau­tions,

“but rather a shape that it oc­cu­pies within a com­po­si­tion…My idea of space can­not be sep­a­rate from the idea of ‘vi­sion.’ Within my paint­ings I al­ways want to cre­ate har­mony be­tween solid and empty ar­eas, be­tween light and dark ar­eas, be­tween col­ored and achro­matic ar­eas…be they still lifes, land­scapes, in­te­ri­ors…these things are the foun­da­tions of my vi­sions, and I love to see the sub­ject from sev­eral points of view even within the same paint­ing, to cre­ate that feel­ing of im­ma­nence that I al­ways felt. These places are al­most never real, be­cause re­al­ity is not enough to me.”

Massagrande’s “spa­ces” em­body an idea and are the re­sult of his ex­pe­ri­ence, knowl­edge and skill. The viewer gazes over the sur­face of the paint­ings en­ter­tained by the va­ri­eties of light, color and shape. One is in­evitably drawn in by the il­lu­sion of space and is con­fronted by a slight dis­ori­en­ta­tion. One can men­tally stroll down the log­gia at mid­day with­out event in Mez­zo­giorno but be stopped short by con­flict­ing an­gles and pat­terns in Sera. One re­turns to ad­mir­ing the sub­tleties of light and color and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the magic and mys­tery they evoke.

1Sera, oil on board, 27½ x 39"1




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