Paolo Collini had his first solo exhibition in Milan in 1970, the city where he was born in 1950 and where he began his relationship with the art world. Right from the start he gravitated to the universe of the symbolic and surreal. After a formative period in which he specifically explored metaphysical painting and the visions of the surrealist masters, his line of inquiry moved more towards a dreamlike naturalistic vision, nourished by romantic evocations that conceal metamorphoses and enigmas revelatory of interior worlds.
During the eighties he approached the then topical current of “citationism” with paintings rich in mysterious architectures, where “Myth” and the sign of “time suspended” lie at the heart of his narration. The house-temple is the fulcrum of his investigation and often, on deep waters, emblematic winged figures wander which conceal inviolable secrets that retrace the signs of a classicism gone astray or perhaps lost, inventing other allusions to it and symbols thereof.
His love for rarefied atmospheres intensified when he got involved with German art collectors. Travelling often in this period he abandoned Mediterranean chromatic tones, enchanted by the cold colours of the North and the mysterious leafy fronds of the black forest. The sunny shades disappeared, giving way to a sort of bloodless monochrome with light-blue evanescences and misty lights, as transparent as mother-of-pearl. Nostalgia hovers in his works and archetypal creatures emerge from the depths of his spirit, symbols of immortal beauty, and waters as deep as the night of time, waters that return obsessively in his compositions: they often refer to the silences of the lake (where he has a studio in that period) or of the sea which for him is much more than just a physical entity: it is a symbol of the eternal feminine, of fertility, of unfathomable and enigmatic depths.
After the nineties the relationship between true and imaginary was transformed into pure and mutable Recollection, wandering between Eros and Thanatos. Icy pain and eternal doubts that go beyond the threshold of the real. It isn’t by chance that he prefers to work after sundown, when everyday noise gives way to nocturnal reflections and he can listen to the evocations of music while the borderlines between reality, memory and dream are often undefined.
In the most recent period his theatre of research has been the city and its suburbs, which through fragments of images become an occasion for observing the individual and what surrounds him: the possibility of entering a “non place” of the individual soul balanced between the everyday – often lived too rapidly and violently – and a personal space where time is immobile and one may stay as long as one wishes, meditating and feeling the stir of emotions, to return to the real world perhaps somewhat different than before, certainly enriched and involved as on coming home from a journey.
For thirty years now Collini’s painting has aroused interest among the most discriminating art critics and he has been invited to take part in numerous public and private exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale. His more than eighty solo shows have been reviewed in major dailies and magazines. Monographs on his work include “Magie antelucane di Collini” by Riccardo Barletta (Ghirlandina, Modena 1984), “L’enigma della nostalgia” by Mario De Micheli (G. Mondadori, Milan 1991), “Dimore dell’invisibile” by Luciano Caprile (Vinciana, Milan 2000) and “Paolo Collini” by Mauro Carrera ( MUP, Parma 2015).
He lives in Milan and London.