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Renato Nicolodi at IVY – In the Wake of Van Gogh

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Renato Nicolodi at IVY – In the Wake of Van Gogh, art trail in Zwalm and Horebeke, Flemish Ardens, Belgium

13 May to 6 August 2023

For more information (in Dutch):

During his education, Vincent van Gogh's letters had a profound influence on Renato Nicolodi. Van Gogh describes what touches him – the sea, nature, the paintings from Veronese to Courbet, the people around him, his memories and his own mood – in a way that his life can be reconstructed almost day by day. In 1882, back in Holland, he reflects in a letter on his time in Belgium, “now just about two years since I began to draw in the Borinage”. The day after, he writes, again to his brother Theo: “There is something infinite in painting - I cannot explain it to you like this - but precisely for expressing mood it is so wonderful. There are hidden in the colours things of harmony or contrasts that cooperate automatically, and which one can't draw a match from otherwise.

As a child, Renato Nicolodi listened to his grandfather's stories, narrating in a similar way. Alessandro Nicolodi told of how he was forced to help build the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall, of the incoming light in the cell he was in as a prisoner of war, and of the contrasts and dualities white-black, left-right.

Trained as a painter, a personal family history is the starting point of Nicolodi's work, which can serve as a platform for a collective memory. The analysis of the entire architectural history led to austere, archetypal constructions, with a black void at the centre, “something infinite” into which the viewer can project their own thoughts, contemplations and memories. “They are invitations to a sacred experience, detached from religion and ideology, and freely interpretable,” Nicolodi says of his work, composed of an ever-repeating pattern of stairs, corridors, overlaps, volumes, vanishing points and a play of light and shadow. Just as Van Gogh harked back to sunflowers, olive groves or cypress trees in his late work, Nicolodi uses a recurring vocabulary in his search for new forms of expression.

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