Paolo Scheggi - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, October 5, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Italy (acquired directly from the artist)
    Thence by descent to the present owner

  • Literature

    Scheggi: La breve e intensa stagione di Paolo Scheggi, exh. cat., Galleria d’Arte Niccoli, Parma, 2002, p. 220 (illustrated)
    Luca Massimo Barbero, Paolo Scheggi, Catalogue Raisonné, Milan, 2016, no. 69 T 18, p. 285 (illustrated)

    We are most grateful to the Associazione Paolo Scheggi for their assistance with the cataloguing of this work.

  • Catalogue Essay

    A key manifestation of Paolo Scheggi’s exploration of space through the utilisation of interlocking and overlapping canvases, Eclisse is a mesmerising example from the artist’s latter years of his short but influential oeuvre. The monochrome square canvas, composed of curvilinear voids and spaces, reflects Scheggi’s innovative development within the realm of shape and matter. Celebrated for his Intersuperfici works, solidly coloured canvases dotted with small elliptical apertures, Scheggi was a pivotal member of the Italian avant-garde alongside his contemporaries, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani and Agostino Bonalumi. Sharing formal and conceptual aspects within their work, the group sought to overcome the established two-dimensionality of the canvas through Spatialism, an innovative artistic movement intended to assemble colour, space, movement and time in a new type of art. Presenting a uniquely vibrant and dynamic rhythm through the superimposition of multiple planes, in its rigour Eclisse is less geometrically prescribed than Scheggi’s earlier works. A mirage penetrating time and space, the present work displays the poetic, unrestricted aspects of the artist’s theoretical approach, which was preoccupied with the complexity of space.

    Executed in 1969, whilst the artist lived in Milan, Eclisse emphasises the layered depth of space within the picture plane. It was during this crucial decade that the artist distanced his oeuvre from his earlier abstract creations and began his physical exploration of the spatial dimensions of painting. Coated in the purity of white, Eclisse is a masterpiece of balance, tension and materiality. Favouring monochromatic compositions, Scheggi never treated neutral tonality as the elimination or univocal choice of a sole colour, but rather used it to manipulate the relationship between light and shadow. Immersing the viewer in the harmonious and mysterious world of the artist, Eclisse rests at the very crossroad of painting and sculpture, presenting the artist’s perceptual idea of painting as an object. Nine open circular zones reveal the spatial spectacle of various amorphous shapes and forms. These elementary, geometrical, abstract forms create a sense of relief and depth, extending the viewer’s visual experience beyond the mere surface of the canvas.

    In the present work, Scheggi masterfully superimposes three planes and fixes them into a single object which encompasses space, time and dynamism. Heavily influenced by the art and dicta of Fontana, Scheggi is often considered Fontana’s successor. Where Fontana’s wounded canvases encourage the viewer to look beyond the plane, Scheggi explored the idea of occupying the viewer’s space, asking one to look within the canvas. Placing the sensory experience of the viewer at the centre of ethos, the artist allows us to fully and absolutely engage with the work and its environment. Connecting with the present work, he directs the viewer to perceive, not only the artificially fashioned void, but rather the multifaceted qualities of form, shadow and light.

    The title of the present work, Eclisse, the Italian word for eclipse, makes direct references to the cosmos. Akin to the curved structure and tonality of the moon’s surface, Eclisse draws closely on the work of Jean Arp. Arp, also preoccupied with creating tangible reliefs in his Constellation works, made a deep impact on Scheggi and his artistic creation following a meeting in England. Transforming the austere structure of the flat canvas, Scheggi instils the work with an absorbing and hypnotic lunar appearance.

    Complex and dimensional in appearance, the present work utilises geometry not only as an experiential aesthetic device but also a key space within the imagination of the viewer and artist alike. An elegant and seductive work, Eclisse perfectly embodies Scheggi’s profound ideas, bringing various stratums of depth into a two-dimensional practice, forcing the viewer to consider the present painting as an object rather than simply an aesthetic surface. Firmly rooted in the canon of art history, Eclisse, a masterful example from Scheggi’s celebrated layered canvases, introduces new angles to traditional notions of dimensionality.



signed ‘paolo scheggi’ on the stretcher; further signed ‘paolo scheggi’ on the reverse
white acrylic on 3 superimposed canvases
80 x 80 x 7 cm (31 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.)
Executed in 1969.

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £525,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 6 October 2017