Tano Festa was born in Rome on 2 November 1938. In 1957 he took his diploma at the Institute of Art in the artistic photography section. In 1959 came his first exhibition, with Franco Angeli and Giuseppe Uncini at the Galleria La Salita in Rome, where he put on his first one-man show in 1961.
His initial approach to painting involved monochromatic geometry using paper on canvas, and he achieved ever greater expressive power by reinterpreting objects removed from their everyday setting and looking at them in terms of their essence: shutters, doors, windows, cupboards and mirrors which no longer act as objects but rather, in so much as they are painted, as painting.
In 1963 Plinio dé Martiis’s Galleria La Tartuga moved to Piazza del Popolo and organised the “13 Artisti a Roma” exhibition. These were the artists who started up the so-called “Piazza del Popolo School”. Like a folk artist (and that is how he referred to his activities in those years), Festa now turned his studies towards an analysis of the Italian tradition of art in the Renaissance, extrapolating and quoting from the works of Michelangelo.
In the mid-seventies he worked on large panels where, using photographic techniques,
isolated extracts of frescoes from the Sistine Chapel and the tombs of the Medici
appeared in enamel paint on primed canvas.
In 1966 he was invited to an important exhibition in Milan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dadaism. Here he met artists like Arp and Man Ray. Festa transformed his “painting objects” into the painting of objects and continued working with photography.
During the Seventies he was almost forgotten by critics and gallery directors, even though he was always present at leading art events.
In the Eighties, after a long period of isolation, he found a new creative urge. He made the Coriandoli [Confetti] series – enormous canvases made of countless dots of paper thrown onto a canvas filled with pictorial matter. He also rediscovered a new form of representation in the use of harsh, cutting gestures and signs.
Festa’s new work over the past few years has been linked to the expressionism
– reviewed and adapted to his liking – of such artists as Munch,
Ensor, Bacon and Matisse. But in Festa there is also solitude and emptiness.
Attracted by this renewed creativity, the critics once again took an interest in his work, so in 1980 he took part in the 40th Biennale in Venice, and in 1982 in the “Artisti Italiani 1950-1983” exhibition, and as well as putting on a number of solo displays.
After a long illness, Tano Festa died in Rome on 9 January 1988.