Antonio Meneghetti (1936 – 2013) was born in Italy and ever since the early years of his life spent in the Veneto region he exhibited an interest in learning trades that allowed him to become familiar with many different materials, from wood to iron to ceramics. He studied in Assisi, a town that was instrumental in his artistic training which was later consolidated in Florence, Venice and Rome. Here he opened his first studio in the late 1970s.
He participated in various exhibitions at prestigious museums and institutions in Italy and abroad, such as the Rocca Paolina in Perugia; Castel dell’Ovo in Naples; Palazzo della Civiltà in Rome; the Corderie dell’arsenale and the Palazzo Ducale in Venice; as well as in Saint Petersburg, Brasilia and Beijing, to name just a few. He received three Culture Awards by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (1980, 1987 and 1989).
After his death, his works have been the protagonists in various prestigious exhibitions. Meneghetti’s latest personal exhibition in Italy, “Sculpturing light”, was held in 2017 in Turin, curated by Ermanno Tedeschi, and featured design works, objects and sculptures mostly made in glass at Murano, while his last personal exhibition outside Italy was held from 27 September to 31 December 2018 at the Shangai Yue Museum of Art.
Art crtic Guido Curto wrote: “Antonio Meneghetti was a joyful, generous and gifted man and these strong personality traits can be seen in his artistic activity. For him, art was chiefly painting, but it was also glasswork (in Murano!) and pure sculpture, which he pursued having studied and gained first-hand knowledge of the great history of Italian art, especially while studying in Rome. During his studies there in history, theology and philosophy, he began as a young man to measure himself against the ancient masters and music. However, it is immediately evident from his work that he was seeking no “mannerisms” or styles from the past to follow or neo-avantgardes to imitate.”
He was a deep lover of life in all its aspects and a fine observer of the world and of human nature. His paintings are characterized by abstract strokes of color, while the human being stands at the center of the design objects. He said of his art: “It is about seizing the universal denominator, the transcendence, the center of a light balance between two colors where they come together.”
The themes of Meneghetti’s artwork are diverse and range from the figurative to the abstract, while his black and white paintings are essential and absolute and represent his highest expression. In Meneghetti’s sculptures emptiness is fundamental and very often it is the most prominent feature, reminiscent of the protagonism of white on canvas.
Antonio Meneghetti was also a pioneer and wrote extensively about his concept of art. In the 1970s he founded a movement, called OntoArte, which summarises his artistic thinking.
In confirmation of the fundamental importance that Meneghetti gave to art, in his book “OntoArte, l’In sé dell’arte” (a sort of Manifesto of his vision applied to visual art) he writes: “Being, in its primary state, is an aesthetic act. Even aesthetics must be considered more important than simplicity, uniqueness, goodness.” Aesthetics therefore holds an absolute primacy. But beware, this term should not be meant in its superficiality, but in a profound sense. For Meneghetti, “beauty” is achieved when someone manages to bring out the harmony within. In other words, for him, the artist must be inspired and moved by a search for inner grace and a desire to express man’s natural yearning for a healthy and harmonious evolution of one’s being.
Antonio Meneghetti highlights then that OntoArte is not a technique. Techniques may well be countless, but the really important aspect is that the artist bring his “Ontic In-itself” to light. This concept is at the base of Antonio Meneghetti‘s philosophy, hw defined it as a perfect and vital principle, present in all men under the threshold of their conscience. Something that comes even before the DNA itself and distinguishes and makes every single human being unique.
In discontinuity with the main trends of modern art that characterized the 20th century, too often twisted around strictly conceptual elaborations, Antonio Meneghetti theorizes the importance of beauty and harmony. Basically, it is necessary to recover a concept and a practice of art as a symbol of order and beauty, because art cannot be meant as the transposition of psychoanalytic dreams, or the expulsion and discharge of conflicts or fashion criteria backed by an intrusive, devastating market. Meneghetti warns against relativism brought about by globalization, for which everything and its opposite are both valid.
“Compared to other artistic trends,” writes Meneghetti, “OntoArte is mainly different in its inspiration. OntoArte does not love the sick, schizophrenic man who looks like living in function of death. It does not share any artistic action that is aggressive or pathological for the human being.” When you look at a work of art, you must feel the warmth of that spiritual transparency that art can give to life.
Education to beauty and creativity is much more important than we are led to think today, for the positive development of the person and for the harmonious evolution of his/her identity. “It is important to let creativity evolve by encouraging its virtuous development. Humanity needs creative souls, today and in the future, more than anything else” says Antonio Meneghetti.