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Italian artist Matteo Massagrande is a highly accomplished painter of empty domestic interiors. His sumptuously-rendered spaces evoke a powerful sense of human presence and the passage of time.
A classical heritage and deep knowledge of Renaissance masters informs his practice. He has a profound understanding of perspective. These paintings are not directly-observed recordings of actual spaces, but composites, deliberately assembled from particular references. He manipulates the rules of perspective to introduce subtle distortions and exaggerations that heighten the psychological impact of these scenes.
Massagrande's acute depiction of light and texture reveals scuffed and time-worn surfaces, cracked and decaying plaster, sagging ceilings and battered doors, partitions and window frames. The marks of time are on everything. This is all articulated in a rich colour palette, full of tonal variation and fine modulation of temperature. Each image explores vistas of inter-communicating rooms and passages. The tessellations of the tiled floors, reminiscent of the perspective grids of the Renaissance, lead out into a sun- drenched landscape. He paints the sky, sea and garden as idyllic destinations, beyond the walls of human habitation. We see tracks and pathways from the human interior to the external world. One room leads to another, there is always a way out, a route to the light.
The paintings are poignant documents of empty spaces, paradoxically full of the traces of human life. They glow, animated by the painter's sensitive and authoritative handling. His sites are alive, breathing, infused with lived experience.
Massagrande proposes a balance between melancholy and optimism. This principle of harmony extends across the entirety of his production, both the technical and conceptual. He has explicitly stated that he is searching for the harmony that underpins humanity and the possibility of regeneration through allegiance to the tenets of great art. These paintings express and bring that idea to life.
Pontone Gallery, 43 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea, London, SW3 2TB