Blurring lines between abstraction and figuration, mysticism and realism, Salvo's enchanted landscapes invite the viewer into the artist's world - rigorous yet playful.
"I have always enjoyed the ambiguous side go things: the false naiveté, the false primitivism, for everything that is seemingly intelligent and technical, I find annoying. It leaves no mystery."
Born in 1947 in Leonforte, Italy
Died in 2015 in Turin, Italy
Iconic figure of the Italian conceptual art scene, over the years Salvo (1947-2015) experimented existential questions such as the influence of consciousness and personal experience on the perception of nature. From the 1970s onwards, he explored complex notions such as memory, time, and identity. He used letters, numbers, and geometric shapes to question the very definition of art and established ideas that constitute it. In the 1980s, he wished to deepen his work around the relationship between man and nature and drew inspiration from existing landscapes and trees. Later, he devoted himself to architectural projects that required the creation of imaginary models and drawings.
In addition to mastering colors and light perfectly, Salvo employs a multitude of mediums, ranging from oil painting to sculpture, photography, and video. Salvo's works have been presented in numerous exhibitions in Italy and around the world.
As his family moved to Turin in the mid-1950s, Salvatore Mangione quickly became acquainted with its vibrant art scene—he met the most prominent figures of Arte Povera such as Mario and Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gilberto Zorio, and he befriended Alighiero Boetti who he would share a studio with until 1971. By the end of the 1960s, Salvo also came into contact with several renowned American conceptual artists Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt and Robert Barry, and got noticed by world-famous curator Harald Szeemann who invited him to take part in Documenta 5, Kassel in 1972.
While at the early stages of his career his production was distinctly conceptual and questioned the role of the artist, in 1973 he drifted back to figurative painting by placing colour at the core of his research. This radical visual shift consisted in bright, hyper-saturated landscapes and cityscapes devoid of human presence—a reference to Giorgio De Chirico’s metaphysical spaces he greatly admired. By reducing any architectural structure to its fundamental geometric solids, Salvo’s practice is also closely related to Paul Cézanne’s. Subject matter is carved solely out of light, colour and shape. An avid explorer, his work was also informed by memories of his Sicily and a number of seminal trips to Greece, former Yugoslavia, Turkey and other Middle-Eastern countries like Oman and Egypt.
Salvo has wandered on a pilgrimage from one image to another and from one book to another with the stubbornness of a self-taught man.
As he gained further recognition in Europe in the early 1980s, Salvo participated in the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984 and was honoured with many institutional exhibitions in Italy and across Europe over the course of the following decades, culminating in a major retrospective at Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin in 2007. After he passed away in 2015, Salvo’s idyllic paintings continued to make their way into national and international museum shows and were ultimately consecrated by a large retrospective at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome in 2021.