Deftly composed in a symphony of white, red, blue, yellow and black, the present work is a masterwork of brushwork and colour. The chromatic palette is reduced to five colours yet their soft comingling renders the work atmospheric and ethereal. The sublime composition exudes a superior energy that binds the viewer’s gaze on this spectacle of expression.
A prime example of a truly global citizen Afro would, following his first solo show at the Catherine Viniani Gallery in New York in 1950, become a key figure linking the European Art Informel movement with the Abstract Expressionists who were gaining momentum in the US. The years leading to the execution of Rosso col Bianco saw Afro divert from a more conservative tonality, advancing towards greater abstraction: "I accepted the fact that the pictorial image realised itself in an organic and unexpected way, that the forms expand in a disquieting way, that the colours may take on a life of their own" (Afro cited in: Lionello Venturi, Pittori Italiani d'Oggi, Rome 1958, pp. 93-94). The artist’s new paintings were motivated by his desire to express memory and emotion. The influence of the Abstract Expressionists on his approach is particularly visible through the development in his creations throughout the 1950s and 60s that would qualify his work as a sublime hybrid of the predominant styles of the avant-garde. Arshile Gorky’s morphology would strongly inform both Afro’s as well as his friend Willem de Kooning’s creations, resulting in unique synergies between the latter two artists’ consecutive bodies of work. Rosso col Bianco is a standout example of de Kooning’s influence on Afro’s painting and its deep origins in Gorky’s morphology.
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