Abstract Art Leaves Little Impression

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Byline: BEN LUKE

IN ASTRATTO: ABSTRACTION IN ITALY 1930-1980 Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, N1 I HAVE learned a tremendous amount about Italian modern art from the Estorick Collection, and the Islington gallery's latest show seemed to promise another educational experience. Drawn from three Ligurian collections, it attempts to look beyond the few Italian abstract painters to have made a significant impact internationally, like Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni. Alas, it is a damp squib, with many of the paintings modest in scale and ambition, and decidedly provincial. This is partly because some artists are represented by inferior works but largely because the greats of abstraction cast long shadows across so much of the work.

Gino Ghiringhelli and Mauro Reggiani's paintings, featuring intersecting planes of colour with angular and geometric shapes, fuse the cubism of Pablo Picasso with a "neoplastic" abstraction of Piet Mondrian. But so much is lost in their interpretation, lacking the fluency of Picasso's interlocking forms and the almost musical balance and exquisite surfaces of Mondrian's paintings. …