Turi Simeti Italian, 1929-2021
Turi Simeti was born on Sicily, Italy in 1929 and was affiliated with Spatialism and the ZERO group. Simeti was considered a true pioneer, a “maestro,” of 20th and 21st century Italian art. The artist is often described as an engineer of light, color, and geometry. He moved to Rome in 1958, where he started painting as an autodidact. Simeti embarked upon his successful career as an artist in 1962, developing the oval motif that would be a keystone of his work for decades to come.
Known for his minimalist, monochrome canvases, Simeti worked alongside other members of the Avant-Garde such as Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni. Simeti’s work embodies the desire of the artists of his generation to capture a peaceful quality through monochromatic abstraction during the aftermath of World War II. Simeti's first Milanese years led to a considerable number of experiences where the surface of his canvases became a space to be conquered with radical elements, drawn both from minimalism and the notion of the monochrome. For the last 50 years, Simeti had created different types of tension on several formats in his works, frequently relying on small-scale canvases to produce startling dimensions.
Usually employing the motif of the oval and oblong ellipses, he had attempted to develop an irregular writing system that liberates the surface of the canvas from the old principles of materiality which allowed nothing but the silent expression of the dynamic patterns dancing across the monochromatic surfaces of shaped canvases. This focused combination of colours and shapes spoke to Simeti's concern with emphasizing the physical presence of the artwork itself, rather than an expression of the artist's voice.
Simeti’s work explores the play of light on shapes created on monochromatic and tactile canvas surfaces. His works exist not as single entities but as an active experience of colour, shape and shadows that ultimately captures the dynamism that exists between these aesthetic elements. Simeti’s monochrome shaped canvases are examples of pure formalism that helped pioneer the now well-established idea that paintings can be three-dimensional art objects. Always subtle, his oeuvre is dynamic in its textured surfaces, saturated colors and masterful shadow work.
Since 1965 his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and is included in prominent collections such as the MAM (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bolzano (Bolzano, Italy), and the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum (Ludwigshafen, Germany). In 1965, he was included in “ZERO Avantgarde,” an exhibition of young Italian artists held at Lucio Fontana’s atelier in Milan. He had solo exhibitions around the world, such as the prestigious Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.