Art@Site Mimmo Paladino Horse

Mimmo Paladino



Higashi-gotanda, Shinagawa-ku
Mimmo Paladino is one of Italy’s most prolific and imaginative contemporary artists, a sculptor, print and film-maker, photographer, painter and theatre designer. Born in 1948 in Paduli, near Benevento, his talent was encouraged by an uncle who was an artist. Mimmo enrolled at his local art school, graduating in 1968 and in that same year saw two gallery exhibitions of his work in Portici and Caserta.
His focus at the time was on drawing and photography as routes into exploring the ancient Mediterranean world of Etruscan, Egyptian, classical and religious imagery. Little by little his own rich eclectic language of images formed and while throughout his life Paladino has remained open to new impressions and ideas, his personal iconography is manifest in every piece of art he produces.
This is so much the case that if you see a modern Italian drawing or sculpture that includes a mask-like helmet, a sword or horse, or a figure studded with birds, Paladino will come to mind. In addition his sculptures often have worked surfaces that suggest the effects of ageing, inviting the viewer to invest them with a sacred, mythic or antique quality.
In drafting this brief biography of Mimmo Paladino, I should like to start with the closing words written by the philosopher Arthur Danto in his essay for the Milanese anthology of the artist’s works: “[…] I must declare the eminence of Mimmo Paladino in the ranks of contemporary art. This is especially true of the outdoor installations.
Nothing touches the great Mountain of Salt he created for Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples with its band of strewn archaic horses. The art world of the past quarter century has nothing to compare with it. There is something magically alchemical in the vision of archaic horses floundering up a pyramid of salt”.
Here we find three observations that perfectly encapsulate the artist’s entire creative career, to an extent sanctioning the somewhat complex nature of his work. Danto was a keen intellectual who knew how to weigh his words, using them to convey a rich array of effects, with a well-structured understanding of contemporary art. In an almost solemn tone, he indelibly indicates Paladino’s position on the international scene, pointing to his eminence. The word “eminence” ultimately comes from the Latin eminens, which refers to a dominant role with regard to a subordinate one.
’ Then there is the point he makes about the “outdoor installations” and, in particular about the Mountain of Salt, which, even though it dates from the 1990s and thus from the artist’s maturity, is a perfect blend of the methods that, ever since his artistic debut, Paladino has used to deal with the relationship with space – including urban space and in relation to his paintings.
Lastly, there is a clear reference to a vision that is “magically alchemical” or, to put it more prosaically, to what I would call his instinctive ability to view objects as composite elements, which he brings together to create a new reduction of meaning.