Luigi Pericle (Basel 1916 – Ascona 2001)
A leading artist and author of the European art scene in the post-war period, Luigi Pericle was highly esteemed by major scholars and collectors of the twentieth century, such as Sir Herbert Read, trustee of the Tate Gallery, curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum, friend and art consultant of Peggy Guggenheim and of the great Swiss collector P. G. Staechelin, his patron during his career. Linked to the team of the Arthur Tooth & Sons Gallery in London, Luigi Pericle exhibited his work at some of the most important group exhibitions of the 1960s, alongside Picasso, Appel, Jorn, Tàpies, Dubuffet, Jorn and Mathieu. At the apex of his success in 1965, the museologist Hans Hess (curator of the York Art Gallery) organised a travelling tour with him in various Anglo-Saxon museums. After this successful period, the artist chose to leave the artworld to devote himself to introspection and self analysis, in the tranquillity of Ascona in Switzerland. From the ‘60s to the ‘80s, Luigi Pericle created, in a creative and mystical rapture that would never abandon him, an endless series of artworks on canvas on masonite and ink drawings.
Luigi Pericle has been at the centre of an important and recent rediscovery of a large number of his artworks in his residence in Ascona, where he retired into a sort of hermitage in late 1965. His artworks have been exhibited in the 2019 at the 58th Venice Biennale, presented through an anthological approach at the Area Carlo Scarpa of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice. The rediscovery of Luigi Pericle coincides with a renewed interest in collecting and to institutional organization, which has already seen curators and directors of European museums visit the Venetian exhibition and the archive of the artist kept in Ascona. Newspapers and international journals are highlighting his production and his revival; among them, the English magazine “Aesthetica”, “Il Giornale dell’Arte”, the Italian newspapers “La Repubblica” and “Il Corriere della Sera”, the Swiss newspaper “NZZ. Neue Zürcher Zeitung”. In the next few years, a full calendar of exhibitions will bring Luigi Pericle to prestigious exhibition spaces ready to welcome his art.
“Art, by its nature, reflects the spiritual disposition of man and it is like an instrument endowed with clairvoyance; it always has the presentiment of future events. – Luigi Pericle
Starting from a personal and informal research, linked to the work of masters of the previous generation such as Jean Dubuffet or Roberto Sebastián Matta, Luigi Pericle soon reached a personal synthesis and an original process of construction of the image, which derive from a free and visionary thought. The protagonists of his images are hypnotic characters, mythological or sacred figures that emerge from the deep of color. Inspired by man’s journeys to the moon and his first spatial conquests, Pericle combined his interests and studies in astrology, oriental philosophy, theosophy and anthroposophy with the astral imagery of a time fascinated by the theme of the sky and from other parallel realities. Moving from canvas to masonite supports, the artist then conceived a sign and a use of the layers which became more and more intense, precise, almost Flemish in the perfect rendering of volumes. His stargate doors, open to mechanical civilisations, have shown on his surfaces mysterious subjects, pyramids and moons, angels and prophets. His gesture created an opening, a passage through the limits of the visible, in the same years in which Lucio Fontana broke the canvases, with his famous “cuts”. In the same way Luigi Pericle’s paintings crossed the physical space using an immaterial impulse. An important part of his production is linked to graphic research; his energy drawn by an impulsive gesture like Hans Hartung and he dripped sometimes like Jackson Pollock, always showed an extraordinary graphic instinct, a brilliant flash of the hand on paper, the result of a process which was not unconscious but rather the result of a profound exercise of meditation that resulted in the act of drawing. Emerging from oblivion, today Luigi Pericle is at the centre of a great project of critical and philological revival. Plans for the study, restoration, conservation and cataloguing of his artistic heritage – protected by the “Luigi Pericle Archive” Association of Ascona – form part of a complex process of rediscovery. Luigi Pericle’s works are kept in the collections of some important Swiss and British museums.