Artist biography

Italian painter, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor. After graduating from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence in 1969, he travelled around Europe and to India. He began exhibiting his work in 1971, a year after moving to Rome, later referring to his early productions as ‘mythical conceptual art'. In the late 1970s he returned to painting and quickly established himself as a major artist of the movement in Italian figurative painting known as the Transavanguardia. In large, vibrantly coloured oil paintings such as ‘In Strange and gloomy Waters a White Spot Shines, a Little Girl Flies by my Side' (oil on canvas, 2.00×3.56 m, 1979; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.) he celebrated man's sensuality, animal vitality and closeness to the natural world. Cultural and specifically art-historical references abound, especially to Futurism and to earlier Italian art, with a swirling, rhythmic application of paint in themes of eroticism, melancholy and death. In Water Bearer (oil and pastel on canvas, 2.07×1.70 m, 1981; London, Tate) and related paintings, larger-than-life, heroic male figures imbued with an enigmatic sense of mission are Chia's main protagonists as manifestations of his own identity; he explored similar imagery not only in drawings and prints (e.g. an etching published in 1983 that reversed the composition of Water Bearer, see 1984 exh. cat., p. 46) but also in sculptures cast in bronze and sometimes exuberantly painted in vivid colours, as in Man with Ram (h. 1.52 m, 1983; priv. col., see Hannover exh. cat., pp. 143–4).

Sandro Chia (exh. cat., ed. C. Haenlein; Hannover, Kestner-Ges., 1983)
Sandro Chia (exh. cat. by E. de Wilde, S. Chia and A. van Gravenstein, Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus., 1983)
Sandro Chia: Prints, 1973–1984 (exh. cat., intro. H. Geldzahler; New York, Met., 1984)
Sandro Chia (exh. cat. by D. Honisch, A. Bonito Oliva and W. Herzogenrath, Berlin, Neue N.G., 1992)


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