Celebrated for his exceptional use of luminous color, which radiates from the canvas as pure energy, Italian artist Vittorio Matino (b. 1943, Tirana, Albania; d. 2018, Nice, France) was associated with the Italian Color Field School of painters. Over his long career, Matino produced large-scale vibrantly colored abstract paintings informed by his early investigations of the Venetian School in the 1960s. He is best known for his plunging vertical compositions, which he created by layering paint onto canvases with a palette knife and then scraping down the center with a brush to expose the brightly stained surface underneath.
Matino’s discovery of other cultures helped liberate him from the weight of Italy’s long and rich artistic tradition. The thrust—and the challenge—of Matino’s practice was the dissolution of cultural boundaries. His study of Asian and African art, and extensive travels throughout Europe and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, exposed him to the work of the Post Impressionists and other visionaries including Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.
His investigations, though firmly rooted in the Italian Color Field School, were informed by aspects of Eastern philosophy, such as the dissolution of the ego, and a long fascination with the vibrant color traditions of the Indian Subcontinent. His focus on brilliant fields of color devoid of forms displays an approach that is neither expressionistic nor geometric; the formal framework is distinctly his own. Through his work, Matino extended the language of the Italian Color Field School and masterfully expanded our understanding of color.
Since 1967, Matino’s work has been on continuous display with more than 95 solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions in North America, Europe and Australia. Matino’s work has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries in London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Madrid, Vienna, Zürich, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, New York, Beverly Hills, Montreal, Osaka and Sydney. His work was featured in solo exhibitions in numerous museums, including Fondazione Marguerite Arp, Locarno, Switzerland; Museo Civico di Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza; Galleria Civica Villa Valle, Valdagno; Palazzo Pretorio, Cittadella; and Museo Civico di Brunico, Italy, among others. In 1990, the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan held a solo retrospective exhibition showcasing his work from 1986 onward. In 2015, Matino participated in Frontiers Reimagined, at the 56th Venice Biennale.
Vittorio Matino’s work can be found in the collections of the Prada Foundation, Museo del Novecento, and Civico Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan; Municipality of Rome; Intesa Sanpaolo Galleria d’Italia; Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza; and Museum of Art Civic Collection, Parma, Italy; Collections de la Ville de Paris, France; Museo d’arte Mendrisio, Switzerland; and Die Burgenländische Anlage & Kredit Bank, Zurich, among others.
In 1997, Matino created a fourteen-meter mosaic for the Bologna metro station in Rome as part of the Art Metro Roma project.