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Ugo Celada | Magic Realism painter

Italian painter Ugo Celada da Virgilio (1895-1995) represented a real point of conjunction between Metaphysics, Magic Realism, New Objectivity and Novecento.
Ugo Celada was born in Mantua, in Cerese.
As a child he drew so well that he managed to convince his father to enrol him, at the age of only twelve, at the Royal School of Applied Art in Mantua, from which he passed, thanks to a scholarship, to the Brera Academy, where he particularly appreciated the lessons of the painter Cesare Tallone, the author of portraits painted with refined brushwork and of a remarkable expressiveness.

His official début in the art world, under the name of “Ugo Celada da Virgilio”, took place at the Venice Biennale in 1920.
There, his canvases, characterized by an obsessive and almost photographic realism, close to the language of Cagnaccio di San Pietro and Antonio Donghi, garnered great success with critics and audiences alike, so much so that Celada returned to the Venetian exhibition three more times, in 1924, 1926 and 1936.

Among other things, in 1926 he would be lauded by the famous French painter and critic Émile Bernard, the then President of the Jury, discoverer of Cézanne and Van Gogh, as the greatest Italian painter, arousing great envy on the part of his colleagues.

He approached the Novecento group and with them exhibited at the Galleria Amadei in Milan in 1930.
He left them only one year later when he signed with Bresciani, Nodari Pesenti, Moretti Foggia, Lomini and Arrigo Andreani an anti-Novecento manifesto denouncing the monopoly of the [Fascist] regime’s culture, published in the newspaper “Il Regime Fascista”.
The disagreement with the group and above all his signing of the anti-Novecento manifesto in 1931 was to prove fatal for his career, which had begun in such a rapid and brilliant way.

Censored, marginalized by Fascism, he would end up living in isolation.
His work continued, oblivious to official criticism.
Although he was publicly condemned by the Regime and Fascism as a whole, he could always count on a vast, high-ranking circle of patrons who never stopped commissioning paintings from him.

His work lay halfway between Magic Realism and the New Objectivity, and became one of the foremost examples of figurative painting, characterized by a completely anomalous and personal style.
Something eternal and "metaphysical" binds his works together, which nonetheless are strictly slotted into the “genres” of the academic tradition: the portrait, the figure, the landscape, and the still life.

The light that pervades his canvases, reflecting off the softly burnished female bodies or the various objects that crowd his iconically perfect still lifes, is unreal because everything that appears is frozen in an enchanted, silent vision, immersed in an infinitely dilated time.
Meanwhile, the colour magic created by his translucent invisible brushstrokes is the real strong point of his painting.

Four apparently distant movements, which in him were exalted and came to complete one another.
His works attest to an interest in the constructive, plastic and supporting data of the figures, inserted within an alienating setting. Celada’s style was faithful to reality in its colours, reflections and transparencies.
His was a scientifically exact reality, his style analytical and detached, and yet his paintings seem to be constantly staging reality.
His painting tended not to a representation of reality, but to a construction of it.

And this was exactly the message that Celada intended to convey with his work: that humankind must build, with its own forces, a superior condition of order and harmony, without ever excluding the irrational element, fantasy, and imagination.
It is precisely this that makes the atmosphere of his works mesmeric and secretive, suspended as they are outside time and space.

His nom de plume which smacked so heavily of the Italian Renaissance, his passion for drawing, and his attachment to reality, transported Ugo Celada da Virgilio into another era.
In his still lifes, like the one presented here, transparent glass and shiny surfaces recall the painting of the 17th century but at the same time are charged with a mysterious atmosphere.
There are also unmistakeable references to Raphael, Mantegna and Tuscan Mannerism.

Ugo Celada da Virgilio, pseudonimo di Ugo Celada (Cerese, 25 maggio 1895 - Varese, 26 gennaio 1995), è stato un pittore Italiano.
Nasce a Cerese, nel Mantovano.
Segnalatosi sin dalla giovanissima età per il suo talento nel disegno, frequenta la Scuola locale di Arti e Mestieri e, grazie ad una borsa di studio, riesce ad iscriversi all'Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, dove fu allievo del pittore Cesare Tallone.
Esponendo nel 1920 alla Biennale di Venezia, assume il nome d'arte di Ugo Celada da Virgilio.

Tornerà per altre tre volte, nel 1924 , nel 1926 e nel 1936 alla rassegna veneziana.
Tra l'altro nel 1926 sarà celebrato dal famoso pittore e critico francese Émile Bernard, l'allora Presidente della Giuria scopritore di Cezanne e Van Gogh, come il maggiore autore italiano.
Avvicinatosi al Novecento, se ne allontanò dopo breve tempo, spostando la sua attività e il suo interesse su ricerche che lo collocano a metà strada tra il Realismo Magico e la Nuova Oggettività, divenendo uno tra i maggiori esponenti della pittura figurativa e del precisionismo, caratterizzandosi per uno stile del tutto anomalo e personale, che lo avvicina per alcuni versi all'opera di Cagnaccio di San Pietro ed Antonio Donghi ed al coevo Sciltian.

Emarginato dal fascismo, dopo una polemica con l'arte novecentista, vivrà di fatto isolato, dipingendo ritratti della nobiltà e della borghesia milanese sino alla morte.
Sue opere si trovano presso la Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma.
Il comune di Borgo Virgilio gli ha dedicato una sezione nel Museo Virgiliano. | Source: © Wikipedia