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Luigi Pericle Giovannetti (Monterubbiano, 1916-2001) was an Italian-French-Swiss artist.
The artist spent most of his secluded life in Ascona, Ticino, Switzerland. He was born in 1916 at Monterubbiano in Central Italy and emigrated to Switzterland. He left school in Basel early to study painting and at the age of twelve received his first commission to paint a picture. When he was seventeen years old he went to art school; here, however, he disagreed so strongly with both the methods of teaching and what the students were taught, that he soon left. While in his early twenties, the philosophies of the past came to have great importance to him, and this led to life-long study of them. He was widely read in the Chinese and Zen philosophies, those of Egypt and ancient Greece, as well as mediaeval philosophy. He has made a particular study of the use of the Greek “Canon”: this is evident in some of the more structural of his pictures. He prepared all his paints himself, using mostly resins, water-colour, egg and special Chinese ink. To achieve the high technical quality of his pictures, he used various methods of rubbing in several layers of colour and scraping down to the layer he wished to leave. He painted mainly on cardboard, specially prepared,from pulverised silk in order to avoid the chemical effect that oil has on paper. He lived and painted in Basel, Geneva, Ascona, Switzerland and was married to Ursula. After some expositions in England has refused to exhibit or sell his work. He destroyed his figurative painting production of the 30’s because he did not consider having attained the degree of quality in his paintings that he wished. Ingeborg Lüscher (widow of Harald Szemann) had Luigi Pericle as ancient secret painting teacher. Mr. Peter G. Staechelin (son of Rudolf) from Basel, who is closely connected with its Art-Life, and is well known for his collection, has a considerable number of Pericle’s paintings and has been his patron. He painted until 1980 after that he continued the study of astrology,homeopathy, theosophy. A lot of writing to be published were found in his house in Ascona. Luigi Pericle Giovannetti had always international epistolary relationship with prominent cultural personalities.
He died in his house in Ascona 4 years after his beloved wife Ursula in 2001.
In 2016 after 15 years of abandon Greta and Andrea Biasca-Caroni had the chance to buy the Luigi Pericle (Giovannetti)’s house including the undiscovered paintings of his owner, Luigi Pericle Giovannetti, who died in 2001 leaving no heirs. The Biasca-Caroni recognised the value of the paintings and start to take charge of the Luigi Pericle estate, publicizing his work and contributing to projects such as the official site of the painter and a documentary on his life. They are now contacting several journalists, curators and art experts in order to unveil to public the secret and vaste (the biggest part of the) collection of Luigi Pericle.
Pericle Luigi Giovannetti initially gained his life with his cartoons, picture stories and anthropomorphic birds, that were published in magazines and anthologies. His biggest success was the marmot ‘Max’, who made his first appearance in the satirical British magazine Punch in 1952.
In 1959 Luigi Pericle made the encounter of his life with his patron Peter G. Staechelin.
During his lifetime, Peter G. Staechelin had rounded out the collection (i.e. a still life by Toulouse-Lautrec or the “separat-ed (by the artist himself) part” of Vallotton’s “Moscow” painting), without however affecting its historical configuration to any great extent. Rather, he applied his artistic connoisseurship to becoming an incomparable patron on behalf of Luigi Pericle, a graphic artist and painter. Before adopting what was to become his true means of artistic expression, Luigi Pericle racalled : “We began working together on August 15th, 1959, when, with all the strength of his experience, my benefactor became impassioned of my barely created work.” At that point in time, Pericle, who had destroyed all his artistic production from the thirties, was in the process of creating from scratch: “At first, my benefactor was but an observer, whose attention had been captured by the novelty of creation. But thanks to an innate talent of his – a marvelous and promising artistic sense – he soon began providing spiritual post-creative support and, as such, actually became a spiritual partner in the creative act itself. His skill was to enable him to ‘read’ the most complex of graphic lines, meaning he was capable of seeing and understanding correctly.” The artist described the art patron as a “virtuoso of seeing”.
Ruedi Staechelin posses about 100 pieces of the Luigi Pericle artistic works produced during the sixties and seventies. The Staechelin Foundation sold all its Schiele and Klimt works in order let work Luigi Pericle develop his art without material problems so that he could focus on painting.
A remarquable episode can be attributed to the visit of Sir Herbert Read to Luigi Pericle’s atelier in Ascona.
Sir Read in 1965 wrote :
“On a recent visit to Switzerland, I was invited to visit the studio of an artist whose work was unknown to me – LUIGI PERICLE. I went without great expectations because an unknown artist is so often unformed artist, or at best a talented amateur. I found an artist whose works imediately impressed me by their professional skill and strange beauty. Here evidently was an artist who had perfected his talent in stillness, and was using that talent to express a subtle perception of reality. Sometimes there was a vague suggestion of naturalistic forms, but form itself was established beyond phenomenal appearances, to represent some inner essence, some spiritual condition that can be represented only in the abstract harmonies of line and colour. A metaphysical art, therefore, but one that remains faithful to the sensous qualities of the material of the painter’s craft. LUIGI PERICLE was a mature artist whose work is highly appreciated in England and Switzerland; that it is not better known in other countries can only be attributed to the artist’s extreme modesty and long pursuit of an absolute beauty. “
Few people are aware of Giovannetti’s painting skills, since after the first triumph he never wanted to exhibit or sell his works.
Sir Read presented Luigi Pericle to Hans Hess who wrote about him :
Foreword by Hans Hess, OBE, MA, YORK
Pericle is concerned with a state of affairs beyond the visible. The visions he puts down are not of his invention, but of his discovery. He himself says that he is concerned with light, shining through darkness. It is this light which finds forms and colours in his paintings. In his work there is one theme, but this theme is treated in varying forms; the pictures can be divided into groups in which one formal element predominates; when its possibilities are exhausted a new formal motif is developed until its history too is explored in the process of creating its history and a new line of approach is attempted. In technique Pericle is a master equal to the old Flemish painters whose jewel — like enamelled glazes he has studied and applied. There is a great richness in the very texture and matiere of his pictures, but this, laudable as it is, would not matter if the sum total of harmonies, in fact, the picture as a unity, would not speak to us through its quality. In Pericle’s work self-expression does not dominate; it is the objective statement which matters, expressed necessarily in a subjective form. No artist can help but express the world in his lines, but it is not the self that matters in our artist’s case, but the facts he establishes.
Luigi Pericle exposed between ’62 and ’65 mainly in London at the Tooth Gallery, solo and with Karel Appel, Jean Dubuffet, Frédéric Benrath, Norman Bluhm, Bram Bogart, William Brooker, Corneille, William Crozier, Thomas Erma, Louis Feito, Sam Francis, Derek Hirst, Paul Jenkins, Asger Jorn, Lucio, Georges Mahieu, Antonio Lago, Bengt Lindstrom, Henri Michaux, Manolo Milares, Peter Phillips, Jean Paul Riopelle, Antonio Saura, Antonio Tapies, Robert van Eyck, Pierre Wemaere at the Colour, form and texture esposition at the Tooth and Sons Gallery in London
After these public events Luigi Pericle voluntary disappeared in his Ascona retreat and continued to paint, study, meditate and write. At least two unpublished book were found in Ascona and will be soon available to the public.
Paintings & drawings in Museums and private collections
His painting are collected in some of the most important international collections. For instance the most important can be mentioned hereafter :
Burckhardt – Koechlin collection, Museum Basle
P. & M. Strauss – Meerwein collection, Arlesheim
Lady Tate collection, London
Sir Basil de Ferranti collection, ICT House, London
Th. Lumley collection,
Bennett Korn collection, New York
Continue here Catalogue gallery dowloadable low def.