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Ernesto Tatafiore
  • Artist (1943)

Born in 1943 in Naples, Ernesto Tatafiore studied medicine and specialized in psychiatry. It was in the 1960s that he emerged as an artist, making a name for himself particularly in Italy (he took part in the IX Quadriennale Nazionale d’arte, in Rome in 1965), Switzerland and Germany. He became one of the forerunners of the Italian “Transavanguardia” which came to the fore in the early 1980s. Naples, where he has his studio and which is still the favourite place for his creative work, has a decisive effect on his work. The environment as a source of inspiration comes across through the obsessive image of Vesuvius. Ernesto Tatafiore’s pictures are marked by a very present and tangible reality but they nevertheless gravitate around famous figures like Paganini, Masaniello and above all Maximilien de Robespierre. The theme of the French Revolution is a recurrent one in his work; the artist evokes it through maxims, slogans and evocative titles such as 9 Thermidor, Café Robespierre, etc.. Tatafiore underscores the simulacra of power, and the contradictions which exist between ideals and Terror, between utopia and reality, and between virtue and vice, with the figure of Robespierre acting as the metaphor. He pinpoints the fact that, by dint of being reproduced, these slogans have become the clichés of the great humanitarian ideals, whose import, meaning and significance have been eroded. For this psychoanalyst, the obsessive presence of death has the ambivalent, joyful and terrifying character of the revolutionary festival. In his drawing activity, Tatafiore works on torn and irregular surfaces, on which he makes collages and collisions of words and images using naïve calligraphy (Robespierre, Testa calda). His paintings, with their fragmentary look, are themselves usually made on crumpled paper and seduce viewers by the fragile elegance of the design. In 1980, the artist took part in the 39th Venice Biennale, and his first solo show was organized two years later in Lucerne. He would show his work again at the Biennale in 1990, then on several occasions in Vienna, and, in 2008, in Brazil and in Naples with Utopian-Philosophical.

Nadine Labedade