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Cotani Paolo


Paolo Cotani was born in Rome in 1940. From 1964 to 1970 he lived in London where he held some courses on “Techniques and materials of the historic avant-garde movements” at the Chelsea College of Arts. He worked for various theatre productions absorbing cultural influences that would be instrumental in fine-tuning some aspects of his research, mirroring what was happening in England at the time. Giorgio De Marchis called him the most English of the young neo-abstract Roman painters. In 1968 he held his first one-man show at the Galleria Ferro di Cavallo in Rome and in 1970 he was presented together with David Russell at the CCAC Gallery in Oakland, California. At the start of the 1970s, Cotani became part of that area of research interested in analysing the syntactic tools of language, known as the Degree Zero of Painting. In 1971 he started to take part in various group exhibitions with Galleria Editalia in Rome; in 1972 he was among the Italian Painters presented by the Sodertalje Museum in Stockholm. In 1973 he exhibited at Galleria Morone in Milan and took part in the show Un futuro possibile. Nuova Pittura at Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara and at Italy Two. Art around ’70 at the Museum of Philadelphia Civic Center. In 1974 he exhibited at Galleria la Tartaruga in Rome and at Studio G7 in Bologna and took part in the Grado Zero exhibition at Galleria Bologna 2 in Bologna and Galleria La Bertesca in Genoa, where the following year he would hold a solo show that also travelled to Milan and Düsseldorf. In 1975 he took part in the IX Biennale de Paris. Manifestation Internazionale des jeunes artistes at the Musée d’Art de la Ville de Paris and the following year at Drawing/Transparence at Cannaviello Studio d’Arte in Rome and in Progressiva. La gestione del colore. Il Grigio: Cotani, Richter again in Rome at the Galleria Arco D’Alibert owned by Mara Coccia, with whom he would establish a long and fruitful working relationship. This would result in his exhibiting there in the following years both in solo shows (1976, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2004, 2005) and group exhibitions (1977, 1982, 1985,1986, 1987, 1988). Again in 1977 he was presented by Galerie Th. Kellere in Kempfenhausen and invited to Documenta VI, at Galerie Nordenhake in Malmö and to Zestien Italiaanse kunstenaars (Sixteen Italian artists) at the Museum Boymans – van Beuningen in Rotterdam. In 1979 he held his first big retrospective at Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara and in 1981 he showed Metafora with Ralph Gibson at the Giudecca shipyard in Venice and at Castelli Graphics in New York. In the same year he held the Ut Pictura Architectura. La costruzione logica dell’opera exhibition at Galleria Architettura Arte Moderna in Rome, where he would exhibit again in 1996, 2000 and in various group shows. In 1982 he held a retrospective in Mantua at the Casa del Mantenga and in 1984 at the Museo Civico in Viterbo together with Anne and Patrick Poirier. In 1983 he took part in Tredici pezzi d’oro at Galleria De’ Foscherari in Bologna and in 1986 in the XI Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte, Palazzo dei Congressi–Eur in Rome, at the La Superficie exhibition at Galleria Martano in Turin and at Roma Punto Uno, a travelling exhibition organised by Galleria Mara Coccia. In 1988 he was present at Tota Pulcra, Esposizione Nazionale d’Arte Contemporanea, Albergo delle Povere in Palermo and at Astratta. Secessioni astratte in Italia dal dopoguerra al 1980 at Palazzo Forti in Verona. The following year he exhibited at Galleria Spazia in Bologna, at Galleria Plurima in Udine, at the Centro Culturale Bellora in Milan and he was present in Orientamenti dell’Arte Italiana – Roma 1947–1989 in Moscow and Leningrad. In 1990 he held a large anthological exhibition at Palazzo Forti in Verona. The following year he was presented at Galleria Niccoli in Parma in the Tensioni di superficie exhibition with Castellani and Scarpitta. In 1994 he held a one-man show at Framart Studio in Naples and two retrospectives, one at Palazzo Racani–Arroni in Spoleto and the other at the Universidad Politecnica in Valencia. In 1995 he was presented in Genoa by Galleria Masnata. In 1997 he took part in Die Andere Richtung der Kunst. Abstrakte Kunst Italiens ’60–’90 at DuMontkunsthalle in Cologne. In 1998 he exhibited Shadows at Franco Riccardo Arti Visive in Naples and at Galleria Il Bulino in Rome. In 2004 his work L’immagine negata was presented at the Universidad de Castilla La Mancha in Cuenca and he took part in Oltre il Monocromo at Fondazione Zappettini in Chiavari. In 2005 he exhibited with Gregorio Botta in Translating Rooms at Understudio in Rome. In 2006 he presented Consonanze con un’opera di Giulio Turcato at Fondazione Zappettini in Milan and took part in Pittura 70 – Then and Now, at the Italian Cultural Institute in London. In 2007 he put on Tensioni 1971–2007 at the Erica Fiorentini Arte Contemporanea gallery in Rome and in 2008 Chorus Line at Galleria Il Ponte in Florence.

An increasingly strong self-reflective and metalinguistic trend could be seen in the artist’s declarations on poetics, the upshot of his firmly conceptual approach to art. In Cotani, the idea is never separate from the actual doing. Like the Greek tekne model: doing and knowing together, doing and thinking; the doing of – and with – painting as a way of knowing.

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