Month: December 2021


Room 4

«The young naked athletes painted by Testori […], through a long history of cross-breeding, mutations and chromosomal enrichment, descend from Caravaggio’s Bacchino malato or Narciso, placing themselves alongside the young acrobats of Picasso’s pink and blue epoch and with a deeper spiritual affinity alongside Rouault’s clowns and forains, horsewomen and prostitutes, with their almost animal will to fight and ability to resist, to take the blows […]. The beauty of this paintings cannot be grasped inwardly if one does not realise that it represents an act of salvation and gives form to an act of faith in the life of beloved things, things indeed, and to an act of participation in their ineradicable melancholy.
These young naked athletes represent the state of innocence of the 
ragazzi di vita of the Dio di Roserio, of the Fabbricone, of the stories of the Ponte della Ghisolfa, that is, the figures in which they enclose themselves, almost waiting to be born, if a gesture of truth and love frees them from the slime. In the Greece of the golden age, artists performed the same miracle, but without leaving a place for man. The young naked athletes took the form of heroes and gods. A form that for Testori is only hope, or rather melancholy and hunger. His young men remain on earth, this earth, among us. They are nerves and muscles, flesh that can compete and can love and be loved, and yield to fatigue, and fall forgetful in sleep. To die every day
Luigi Carluccio, 1971

In 1971 Testori exhibited in Turin, at the Galatea Gallery of Mario Tazzoli, the gallery owner who was responsible for the first exhibition of Francis Bacon in Italy and trusted dealer of the Agnelli family.


Room 3

«In our case, the Baptist’s head has become the object, the symbol, the world of infinite pain and the most desperate despair. Testori took on the part, alongside that of the executioners, of tearing off the Baptist’s head with all its threads, flesh and, above all, blood. In fact, the artist has succeeded so well in this work of dissection and identification that he leaves the spectator in the hands of the artist who becomes a creator, albeit a creator in death. But the album of these drawings also has a divinatory force, in the sense that it is a prelude to what will be Testori’s evolution after 1968, his harrowing descent into hell. Throughout all these years Testori has in some way challenged his and our God, in an attempt to repeat the very story of Creation: he has made himself both actor and victim, master and servant. But always proceeding together, without separating parts and roles: from that sacrificed head he has been able to extract the motion of life, that double register of expectation and defeat that the poet Testori practices with lucidity but also with much obscurity
Carlo Bo, 1987

In 1968, during the writing of the play Erodiade, Testori drew with a fountain pen a large number of Baptist’s Heads torn by hooks and deformations: nine of them occupied a few pages of the handwritten notebook, letting themselves be framed by the text, while another 72, painted on similar notebooks, formed a numbered series.
The following year, he switched from human to animal heads and resumed painting in oils. The cycle of 72 heads was presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1987, on the occasion of the staging of the play.


Room 2

Although consistency was not a skill Testori cultivated, it is a fact that his detachment from the paintbrush was definitive for many years. Since the Crocifissione of 1949, if we exclude the rare drawings that appear in the manuscript notebooks, Testori seems to have lost interest in painting and drawing for about fifteen years.
In the mid-1960s, however, his passion for drawing was impetuously reborn from his writing and led him to produce a number of dramatic “portraits” of crumbling roses and, from 1967, a series of watercolours and large drawings dedicated to the theme of sunset marked the return of colour.
That of 1949 proved to be only a long setback and Testori’s pictorial career, far from the dramatic epilogue of Via Santa Marta, began again, impetuous and torrential, never to stop until the end.


Room 1

In the 1940s Giovanni Testori (1923-1993), even before being a writer, was known to most as a realist painter and critic, sympathetic to the experience of the Milanese school that came out of “Corrente”, a fellow traveller of Morlotti, Cassinari and Guttuso. Even his interventions as a militant critic are dictated by the need to find, first and foremost for himself, a viable path in Italian realism, capable of going beyond Picasso’s dazzling vision, after having gone through it.

The Four Seasons
After participating in a number of exhibitions and awards, in 1947 Testori painted a cycle of four frescoes dedicated to the seasons, for the dining room of his brother Giuseppe’s house in Novate, of which the cartoons used for the spolvero, the technique of transferring the drawing onto fresh plaster, are also preserved.

The pendentive of San Carlo
In 1948, thanks to his friendship with Father David Maria Turoldo, Testori obtained permission to paint four frescoes, representing the symbols of the Evangelists, in the pendentives of the presbytery dome of the church of San Carlo al Corso. But on 10 September of the same year, the Prior of the Servite Fathers in charge of the church invited a “Mixed Commission of Fine Arts and Sacred Art” to judge the frescoes, which he personally did not appreciate.
The Commission stated that although the frescoes had “artistic merit” they were in contrast with the environment of the Basilica. Testori immediately made his remonstrances claiming that he would defend his work “through the city newspapers”. Although a few voices were raised in his defence, most agreed on the incongruity of the intervention and, on 23 June 1949, the chronicle of the convent recorded that the frescoes had been covered with oil paint.

The epilogue
Testori’s disappointment was so strong that it fuelled a growing dissatisfaction with his own pictorial research. For Testori, the creation of the extraordinary and innovative Crocifissione (1949), here placed at the top of the staircase, and the staging of his first solo exhibition at the Galleria San Fedele in Milan (1950) were evidently worth little.
Shortly afterwards, the dramatic epilogue came: a large fire in the courtyard of the house in Via Santa Marta, where Testori had his studio. A destructive fire with which he set fire to all the paintings he had made up to that moment and which were still with him.
With this gesture Testori abandoned painting, throwing himself headlong into writing, as an art critic in the sign of Roberto Longhi and as the narrator of I segreti di Milano.


Gianriccardo Piccoli and Alessandro Verdi
Curated by Giuliano Zanchi and Giuseppe Frangi
Casa Testori
27 November 2021 – 26 February 2022

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Two artists with a long history, deeply marked by the recent pain of their homeland. Gianriccardo Piccoli and Alessandro Verdi are united by their common roots in Bergamo and by the seriousness of an artistic path that has led them to a production of great intensity and originality. 
The exhibition at Casa Testori proposes two paths that intertwine in the various spaces, in a dialogue that sees Piccoli occupy the walls with some series of large drawings made from the time of the pandemic to the present day, and Verdi occupy the centre of the rooms with tables that display his large artist’s books. The dialogue therefore takes place between the intense black and dense shadows of Piccoli’s papers and the pages on which Verdi’s powerful “spot” shapes are imprinted.
The guiding thread of the exhibition is precisely this confrontation under the sign of a common dramatic perception of reality; a perception that has courageously determined their respective recent choices. 
Piccoli has worked in cycles of drawings, often inspired by the images of other artists, as in La stanza di Louise Bourgeois or Il Letto di Van Gogh. He has a neo-romantic vein, marked by a great existential tension that translates into a search for light within sheets marked by the body of darkness. Verdi, on the other hand, with his large books, so dense in form and image, almost like contemporary illuminated manuscripts, accompanies us in a post atomic age meditation.

The exhibition is also intended as a tribute to the two artists at a significant moment in their biographies: Piccoli will be 80 years old on 15 December 2021, while Verdi has just crossed the threshold of 60.

Massimo Dalla Pola, A POISON TREE


A wisteria, an oleander, a colchicum, a peony. Poisonous plants, but few people know this. Coloured flowers that conceal their danger behind their harmless appearance. Printing on PVC exaggerates these characteristics, giving the drawings, with their accentuated two-dimensionality and lack of depth, an icy, unrealistic appearance. The plastic support is transformed into the essence of their dangerousness, just as harmful as their consistency. The Latin name recalls that of medieval herbals: a caption that is anything but explanatory.

Massimo Dalla Pola was born in 1971. He lives and works in Milan.



Ten swings were suspended in the garden, sometimes hidden. These are the ones on which Vittoria Parrinello wrote her first poems and made her first drawings as a child. The suspension of time and space is made concrete by the thin lines that draw and block them, in which the movement remains in power and the rocking is always on the point of resuming. They leave the doubt that someone has just come down and that they have not yet stopped. Swings on which one cannot sit, because they are not meant to support the weight of the body, but that of the imagination.

Vittoria Parrinello was born in Crema in 1988.

Luca Monterastelli and Marzia Corinne Rossi, MAMIHLAPINATAPAI

Room 20

Luca Monterastelli and Marzia Corinne Rossi inhabit the same room. Their works have different poetics, they face each other in space and challenge each other, almost as if they were playing stone, paper and scissors. To put it simply, these are the materials their sculptures are made of. The two artists share a home and studio, yet their works have a strong aesthetic and conceptual autonomy. Their coexistence is a constant tension. It lives in the expectation that the other will take the first step and in the hope that expectations will coincide. Mamihlapinatapai, an untranslatable word from the lexicon of an endangered population in Tierra del Fuego, sums up this restrained power, indicating the act of “looking into each other’s eyes hoping that the other person will do something that both of them long for, but neither of them wants to do first”.



The Brunate lighthouse on Lake Como illuminates the night. Without pausing, it lights up what is in the shadows to resume its cycle immediately, without judgement.
Its beam of light strikes the forest, reverberates in the water, dazzles cars on a paved road and illuminates a villa.
Inside this house, the members of a family are portrayed in their daily lives, captured for a moment by the eye of the camera. An everyday life like any other, but set in a precise moment: the time when the eldest son, Francesco, spent a year in prison and each of the family members had a correspondence with him.
Francesco is Fatima Bianchi’s older brother; the house in Brunate is the villa where the artist grew up.

Fatima Bianchi lives and works between Milan and Marseille.



The translation of impasse indicates both a dead end and a difficult situation, a meaning with which the term is commonly used in Italian.
Matteo Maino plays with this ambivalence to designate on the one hand the physical place, the cramped and closed space of the stairwell, and on the other a situation of stasis, even creative stasis, of the artist. The only way out is to change the point of view, to turn the perspective upside down: here is the sense of an unexpected corner of the sky, because a staircase going down underground can also be a staircase going up.

Matteo Maino was born in Bergamo in 1990.