Having studied in Naples, Pino Pascali (born 1936, Bari, died 1968, Rome) moved to Rome in 1955, where he learned scene painting and set design at the Academy of Art. He worked in television and film advertising for a while, but in 1965 held his first solo exhibition, where he showed colourful canvases.

The following year he exhibited a group of his ‘fake sculptures’. Utilising some of the techniques of theatrical set building, these shaped-canvas works play on the relationship between illusion and reality. They seem to be solid sculptures, but they are essentially paintings; they appear as elegant abstract forms, but have disconcerting echoes of animals, plants or landscapes. The Decapitation of Sculpture, 1966 for example, hints at a rhinoceros with a severed horn, and Mare, 1966 suggests an area of choppy sea, but is stylised to the point of abstraction.

Pascali soon became a star of Rome’s art world, producing, bright Pop Art-inspired works in many different styles and media. He used old cans, plastic brushes, fake fur, coloured water, hay, dirt, and even appeared in a film recording the ‘planting’ of loaves of bread on a beach. One of his most spectacular works is Bridge, 1968 an 8-metre-long ‘rope’ bridge, made of steel-wool scouring pads, which was strung across the gallery. All these works ignore the boundaries between abstract and figurative art, and revel in the playful transformation of materials. Pascali died tragically, following a motorcycle accident at the age of thirty-two.