Sabrina Raffaghello Contemporary Art MICHELE ZAZA Was born in

Was born in Molfetta (Puglia, Italy) on November 7th 1948. He attended art school in Bari and in 1967 he
enrolled in Marino Marini’s Sculpture Program at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, graduating
in 1971.
Zaza's work is essentially inspired by the idea that “art does not offer an alternative to the human
condition, but is the result of this condition”, and as such is perpetuated in human thought.
In the Cristologia cycle, presented in 1972 at Galleria Diagramma/Inga-Pin in Milan, the artist is
concerned with “commenting”, through a figurative repertory, on the false freedom of the individual in
relation to various powers.
In January 1973, Zaza begins working on the Dissidenza Ignota cycle, exhibited at Marilena Bonomo’s
gallery in Bari. The principal work in the series portrays the artist’s mother about to fall asleep, between
a gun resting on a pile of cotton wool and a sequence of images of the woman at different times in her
daily life.
In 1974, works entitled Naufragio euforico and Sisifo ritrovato madre e figlio, reveal the contradictory
aspect of the concept of freedom in the form of a “one-way” path. Around the same time, Zaza produces
the series La felicità e il dovere nella ripetizione omologata, a series of eighteen photographs in which
two individuals (the artist and his mother) mime the same gestures in a sequence interrupted by the
presence of the book and the television. In Spazio del verbo essere, the same two people work within the
space of a closed door.
In 1975 this is followed by the Mimesi cycle, exhibited at Massimo Minini’s gallery in Brescia and by
Annemarie Verna in Zurich. In the work Dissoluzione e mimesi (five photographs), Zaza appears upsidedown, imitating the actions of his mother’s meal, performing the usual gestures in an unusual position.
In other works dating from 1974-75, the artist’s parents support a soft stack of grey matter in the form
of numerous lobes, positioned in the middle, between the presence of bread and stone, representing
culture and nature. In some of his works the artist appears suspended upside-down travelling a 360
degree full circle. Existence and absence, time and death, the human condition and the artist’s work
After 1976, the unreal is no longer opposed to the real but is a new form of reality made up of curious
landscapes of earth and cotton wadding, inhabited by small paper objects like flying machines.
In Ugo Ferranti’s “Anamnesi” exhibition in Rome, the characters seem to live in a dreamy dimension,
nourishing themselves on breadcrumbs. Also in 1976, Zaza produces the Universo Estraneo cycle at Lucio
Amelio’s gallery, in Naples. Then Fantasia Privata at Yvon Lambert’s gallery in Paris. In 1978 the artist
produces works analysing the incorporeal under the title Racconto celeste. The blue colour of the wall
dotted with breadcrumb stars is a sky that covers the faces of his father and mother. Living space
becomes “celestial space”.
Terra inventata – at Saman Gallery in Genoa (1978) – is a world in which plants made of bread and stars
In 1980, at Leo Castelli’s gallery, in New York, Zaza exhibits Neo-Terrestre, in which he echoes the
references to the “germinating” earth, which fertilises painted sculptures and cotton-wool forms. Faces
appear from the front or turned. In the same year this is followed by the Itinerari cycle.
In 1980 Zaza is invited hold a solo show at the Venice Biennial.
The next year he is in Paris with a solo show at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris. In 1991 he
exhibits at the Cabinet des estampes du Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva, and in 1996 at Moscow’s
Shchusev Architecture Museum, where he presents a series of new works inspired by Hölderlin.
Zaza’s group shows include invitations to Documenta (Kassel) in 1977 and 1982; in 1975 he exhibits at
the Paris Biennial and in 1977 at the 14th San Paolo Biennial. In the Eighties and Nineties he participates
in exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Hayward Gallery in
London and the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart.
In the Eighties Zaza starts to incorporate sculptural elements into his works. One example of this is
Paesaggio, in which bird-like forms appear alongside the photographs. Another significant series of works
is entitled Cielo Abitato.
In his photographs of the early Nineties, Zaza transfigures faces with fields of colour focusing on points
subtending vital functions such as the forehead, the nose and the hands.
Sabrina Raffaghello Contemporary Art
SR contemporary district
Antico Spedal Grande Chiesa SS. Antonio e Biagio ,via Treviso 17 - 15100 Alessandria
phone +39 01311953264
Beginning in 1996, the frontality of his faces portrayed close-up and the titles of the works draw on the
tradition of icons. The face is a door for exploration of interior worlds.
The “traveller” is one who goes back in the direction of his roots, in a “return to himself”. Works like the
Centro del viaggiatore, Cercatemi altrove, Paesaggio segreto, and Corpo magico establish an exchange
between human intimacy and the cosmos through cardboard and cotton wool sculptures, in which the
artist transfigures his own body surrounded by light effects. The dimensions of the works and the way
they are set up in the exhibition space seem intended to create a presence that occupies all the space,
enlarging our feeling in the direction of the universe.
Zaza excogitates an atmosphere laden with symbols, in which the body and the face are in contact with a
secret scenario prepared on the basis of elements drawn from daily life (breadcrumbs, cotton wool,
pillows) and archetypal sculptural presences. Often the face, whether male or female, is painted in the
colours of the earth and sky – brown, blue, white – as in his most recent works, from Rivelazione segreta
and Corpo segreto (2005) to Paesaggio magico and Orizzonte segreto (2006) or Io sono il paesaggio
In Zaza’s art, the photograph is not a pure “witness” to objective reality, but is always a “creation” of
reality. Behind a “cushion of mysterious signs”, the image is once again prophetic of a “passage” from the
dream to an unexpected, ever-new imagination. The artist mimes magical gestures, with his hands
together or covering his face, revealing his entire vision to the “traces” of an unknown existence, of
mystery. Since 2000, Zaza has exhibited at the Museo Laboratorio d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome and
the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva.
Recent exhibitions
Apparizione magica (“Magic Apparition”), Biennale di VideoFotografia di Alessandria
Apparizione cosmica (“Cosmic apparition”), Bertalazone Palace at San Fermo ,Turin
Apparizione magica (“Magic Apparition”), Premio Maretti - Valerio Riva Memorial, Centro per l’Arte
Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato
Public collections
Fondation Emanuel Hoffmann, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung (Basel);
Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum für Gegenwart (Berlin);
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis);
Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris) and Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris;
Staatsgalerie (Stuttgart);
Museum of Contemporary Art (Téhéran);
Kunsthaus (Zurich).
Represented Gallery Sabrina Raffaghello contemporary art, Alessandria.
Sabrina Raffaghello Contemporary Art
SR contemporary district
Antico Spedal Grande Chiesa SS. Antonio e Biagio ,via Treviso 17 - 15100 Alessandria
phone +39 01311953264