THE THOUSAND COLOURS OF NIK SPATARI – One of the most original & innovative contemporary artists
The complete works of Nik Spatari, a substantial body of work, from the forties of the last century to the present day, demonstrating the extraordinary activities of one of the most important personalities in contemporary art at the international level, who has combined novelty and quality, experimentation and experience. A man who has dedicated his life to art, manifesting innovation, courage and originality, Nik Spatari expresses himself through his art, but, above all, aims to dialogue, transmit and share new frontiers in technique, material, form and colour. The story of Spatari might seem a modern fairy tale: a man from the South of Italy so passionate about art and culture that he decided to make devotion to beauty the spirit of his very existence. The exhibition illustrates the development of Spatari’s artistic reflection and progression through subsequent cycles of
work, from his childhood in Calabria, straddling the Second World War, to his long sojourn in Paris and travel across Europe and the USA, giving rise to a constantly evolving vocabulary, a great laboratory of ideograms and archetypal emblems, symbols and bold associations that since the end of the 40s has asserted his poetry. Nik Spatari focuses his work on the quotation of iconographic elements of the Mediterranean subject to variations and grafting of contemporary culture. Orient and Occident, North and South, ancient civilizations and modern thought are woven and blended in his works in an exploration that shares much with the history and the cultural identity of Calabria, a land of conquests and invasions, the meeting and mixing of peoples and civilizations different in origin, ethnicity, traditions and religion.
Artistic Journey of the artist
Nik Spatari was born in Mammola, Italy in 1929. As an artist with varied and unconventional training, he has worked on many artistic endeavors utilizing a vast array of different techniques. From a young age, Nik exhibited extraordinary talent for drawing and painting but gradually lost the use of speech and hearing which prevented him from attending traditional schooling. He taught himself and focused exclusively on visual forms and expression.
In Reggio Calabria, where the artist has a special relationship with the sea, he attended first grade. Following the outbreak of the war of 1940, Spatari lost his hearing due to a bomb blast that was dropped from Allied planes. Spatari was a restless, self-taught boy who painted on the walls of houses destroyed by bombs in World War II using a mixture of crude pigments and egg yolk.
At the age of seven he won first place in the drawing competition at the Corriere dei Piccoli. At eleven he won first place at the international competition Alliance of Steel. This was Nik’s first time working with oil paint on hardboard and plywood. His father, a sergeant in the Carabinieri (a military force charged with policing civil society) believed in his son’s talent. He took Nik with him when he traveled to the edges of the country, to remote towns tucked into the crags of the Aspromonte, Roccaforte, Roghudi, Africo Vecchio, Bova, Majerà, San Luca, Polsi, Grotteria to do his policing work. The people in these towns were isolated from the world and where, in the period immediately following the end of the war, there was a climate of social instability. At times, this instability turned into violent conflicts that ended in the loss of life.
The young Spatari followed his armed father into the unrest clinching his brushes and colors. Behind their travels, Nik left a trail of murals full of life with flashes of optimism in places saddened with the fallout of war and poverty.