Perspectives 1. Artists in the Matasci Collection.

Perspectives 1. Artists in the Matasci Collection.

Edmondo Dobrzanski, Ennio Morlotti, Varlin (Willy Guggenheim).

30 May – 9 August 2015

PERSPECTIVES 1. ARTISTS IN THE MATASCI COLLECTION is an exhibition whose purpose is to pay tribute to the art collector Mario Matasci, from Tenero, in Switzerland.

In recent years, the MACT/CACT Contemporary Art in Canton Ticino has striven to keep pace with the changes taking place in cultural policy developments on the southern side of the Alps, regularly tackling the issue of primarily private collecting. In an age when the art market is clearly experiencing a speculative bubble and public museums are encountering enormous difficulties in maintaining their defined role as the Lighthouses of Art, as well as in achieving a more appropriately acute new identity as Museums, never has private collecting been more of a key element in a co-ordinated network between the different public cultural poles, which essentially and in principle retain responsibility for addressing the conservation of our historical cultural heritage and using didactic mechanisms to disseminate it. What approaches should be used, in the framework of this process of change, to reconfigure temporary exhibitions that aim at generating new knowledge and understanding new trends in the field of art, so as to offer them to the museum-going public as a means of intellectual improvement? Private collecting has an enormous responsibility and a significant impact on the amount of works that are acquired, whose high quality is guaranteed by dedication, time, consistency, the love of art and the buying choices made, all qualities that are not always discernible in the system of public institutions.

Mario Matasci is one of a handful of collectors in Ticino whose story is worth telling and retelling through the medium of an exhibition. His enthusiasm for art started relatively early in life, as he started collecting works and then piecing together a systematic collection and archive to reflect his personal taste and visions. In the process, he mostly followed his own heart and instinct, using them to create a collection that can be described as ‘twin-headed’. Mario Matasci lives in the lands around Locarno on the shores of Lake Maggiore, where some extremely important European artistic trends had taken root from the late nineteenth century to the 1950s, with a special focus on Ascona’s Monte Verità.

Apart from the presence of a few nineteenth-century artists – in particular Filippo Franzoni, fully entitled to be numbered among the exponents of the “Lombard” and “Scapigliato” fin-de-siècle that also developed up at these slightly higher latitudes – and its metastases, Matasci seems to have analysed and concentrated on the historical identities to be found in Ticino, a land that is naturally twin-headed, because of its inability to subscribe completely to a Swiss identity, while at the same time – and not without a degree of difficulty – feeling part of Italian culture. And yet Ticino, a land of artists who are “foreign” (because they hold foreign passports) and/or “estranged”, witnesses (now as in the past) more or less consciously and impotently the osmotic through-traffic of the great names of the visual arts, of literature and of the social sciences of Mitteleuropa. The province has managed to snare very little of all this in its web as it passes through. Many have arrived in Ticino and most have left again, without this avaricious land apparently noticing. Something has remained, however, yet much has been forgotten.

Mario Matasci is a humble historian also in this sense and it is actually here that we find his farsightedness, the skill that has enabled him to perceive and interpret better than so many others the sometimes embarrassing paradox that still makes this land so evanescent, with its scanty native vocation for culture, and that – as luck would have it – has found itself in the very heart of Europe. This explains why his collection features one section of works coming from an Italian-speaking cultural background and another whose roots go deep into the gloomy Expressionism of the north that has influenced us so strongly, for better or worse.

The MACT/CACT has chosen works by three artists in the collection to show on this occasion: Ennio Morlotti (1910-1992), Varlin (Willy Guggenheim) (1900-1977), almost as though to show that it was possible to appropriate the opposites from north and south, and one artist whose ancestors came from Russia (now Poland): Edmondo Dobrzanski (1914-1997).

Mario Casanova, 2014 [translation Pete Kercher]

Cover images: 1. (from left to right) Edmondo Dobrzanski (1914-1997), Carla, 1958. Oil on canvas;
Varlin (Willy Guggenheim, 1900-1977), Livia, 1955. Oil on canvas. Matasci Art Collection, Switzerland.
2. (from left to right) Varlin (Willy Guggenheim, 1900-1977), Ritratto del Prof. Corbetta(Portrait of Prof. Corbetta), ca. 1973. Oil on canvas;
Varlin (Willy Guggenheim, 1900-1977), Les Halles di Parigi (Les Halles in Paris), 1949-51. Oil on canvas. Matasci Art Collection, Switzerland.
3. Art collector Mario Matasci explains his collection to a class of high school students.
Ph. Pier Giorgio De Pinto © PRO LITTERIS Zürich.



Museo e Centro d’Arte Contemporanea Ticino

Via Tamaro 3, Bellinzona.

Opening hours

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

2 p.m. – 6 p.m.


CHF 5.00

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