The painting depicts a young naked woman with child in her arms, modern interpretation of the traditional theme of Madonna and Child. She is sitting on a wooden throne, or on a 15th century-style chest decorated with grotesque motifs. There’s a large headboard with three cusps which reminiscent of the architecture of Gothic and medieval altarpieces.
The woman is surrounded by a transparent aura, a sort of a veil decorated with floral motifs. On her sides there are two harlequins, figures that Cinello used often in his works. The hairless figures have big eyes and a bit dazed expression. Their faces, hands and feet are green. The two figures are smiling and looking directly at the observer slightly tilting their heads. The harlequin on the left is wearing a green and tight-fitting suit embellished with colored ribbons around his neck. He is holding his hands on his stomach, which perhaps alludes to the mother figure at his side. The other harlequin is keeping one hand on the bench while the other is on his heart. He is also wearing a similar green piece of clothing.
The woman at the center is looking down, which was typical for Byzantine style Madonnas, unlike the other lively characters including the child who seems to greet the observer.
The floor and a part of the background is gilded, which is another reference to the golden backgrounds of the ancient panels, but it is also an element that removes the spatial depth. In fact, the concept of time and space seems not to exist. The perspective is totally absent and the painting is flat, which increases the impression of a primitive style painting. Red decorations with geometric patterns recall the works of Paul Klee.
Cinello’s work represents a fantasy world with infantile and naïve elements, populated by surreal and ageless characters. They are dream-like creatures, created by his wild imagination, inspired by the literature and myths, or as in this case, religious subjects.
Umberto Losi, a.k.a Cinello, was born in Piacenza in 1928. He studied first at the Istituto Gazzola in Piacenza under Alfredo Soressi (1942-1946) and then in the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna.
His early paintings were successful in America and they were already characterized by the typical elements of his art, deriving from the fantasy world and dreams. His works are often populated by strange creatures in masks, jugglers, acrobats and smiling animals with large eyes on colorful backgrounds or collages which recall the works of Marc Chagall.
Between 1955 and the beginning of the sixties Cinello organized his first exhibitions at the Galleria delle Carrozze in Rome, Galleria Schneider in Milan, International Exhibition of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and then in America, in Pittsburgh and New York. In 1966 he received an award at the Resistenza exhibition in Piacenza.
In 1967 he returned to America and San Francisco, where he had a personal exhibition, while in 1972 he was making engraved folders for the Edizioni del Cappello in Verona. In 1979 he painted the frescoes of Mandelli chapel in the cemetery of Piacenza and continued to exhibit his works in Europe and America.
He died in 1982. Four years later Galleria Braga of Piacenza dedicated him a memorial exhibition.
Fabrizio Plessi Collection