Gaetano Zampogna was born in 1946 in Scido (Reggio Calabria), he lives and works in Rome.
In 1989, as one of the founders of the Artmedia group, Zampogna – at one with the theoretical guidelines of the movement, based on an idea of art seen as an “appropriation and looting” of 20th-century works – added original works by artists such as Schifano, Boetti and LeWitt to monochrome or dichromatic surfaces.
On the heels of this experience, which came to an end in 1994, Zampogna shifted his work towards the retrieval of a figurative painting contaminated by present-day media myths. Initially highlighting the frailty of realities perceived as advertising products, he superimposed “world events” as medial windows taken from the covers of the most renowned international magazines over the monochromatic and lunar grandeur of great, anonymous faces.
In his next phase, Zampogna created an uncanny relationship of identity between the two subjects, expanding the previous windows until they correspond to the portraits – that is, until “real Reality” and “medial Reality” become interchangeable.
The artistis subsequent works represent a further, logical step towards an ironic and tragic analysis of realty: the characters bizarrely inhabit the “scratch card images”, L‘Isola del Tesoro (“Treasure Island”) and Animali Porta Fortuna (“Animal Mascots”), icons of a belittled contemporaneity, represent the expectation of a mediocre catharsis: the false hope of personal wealth.
In 2009, the artist produced a series of portraits of poet friends. Monochromatic and extremely recognizable, these faces are barely “disturbed” by the incorrect use of well-known proverbs (for example, “its bark is worse than… its fins”).
In 2010 saw the start of the most recent phase in Zampogna’s work. His visionary energy led him to organise great visual machines featuring two allegorical characters as their protagonists: the giants Mata and Grifone from the remote imaginary of Southern Italy, who appear – almost as if conjures up – on vast fabrics decorated with floral motifs, becoming a crystallised mise-en-scène and escape stratagem towards an original rituality to be countered with the void of history, with the dreamlike tangibility of a shadow taking visual shape. The stature of the Giganti in posa (“Resting Giants”) overturns the certainty of reality and inverts its chronologies as if to claim that only what can be painted is real, and likewise only what does not exist is real.
From 2014 on, following this fable and dreamlike experience, the artist has set out – in his own way – to reopen his eyes on the world, talking one of the dramatic trends covered by (to name just a few) Rembrandt, the Carracci family, Chaim Soutine, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst: slaughtered animals.
In Zampogna, the slaughterhouse or the butcher’s shop is an incorporeal mise-en-scène where the animal and his executioner coexist harmoniously on damask fabrics, almost becoming the decoration themselves. The tragedy proves to be defused, as if to affirm that the medial defusing of the tragedy is itself actually the true, great tragedy of contemporaneity.
In 2019 the Marca Museum (Catanzaro) hosted Zampogna’s solo exhibition “Nel corpo dell’Arte”, curated by Teodolinda Coltellaro and Giorgio de Finis.