Since his first exhibitions – such as the two personal exhibitions of 1977 at the galleries of Lucio Amelio in Naples and Giorgio Persano in Turin – Mimmo Paladino is the author of an uninterrupted research on the meaning, history, techniques and practices, on the archetypes and cognitive and expressive possibilities of painting, placed in dialogue with the environmental dimension in which it appears to the viewer. Established as a leading exponent of the lines of research relating to the Transavanguardia, which made his international debut at the 1980 Venice Biennale, Paladino articulates abstraction and figuration together, creating images that evoke a suspended universe, arcane and primitive but at the same time generative and primal, in which materials, shapes and colors are calibrated in simplified and essential sign structures. Which, starting from the mid-eighties, will be characterized by an ever closer interconnection between painting, sculpture and installation, combining monochrome and polychrome, flat pictorial patterns and three-dimensional sculptural inserts, frontal vision and spatial perspective.
In his work of the mid-nineties Alma (“soul” in Latin), Paladino inserts on the background surface of the canvas, painted with a double pattern of two different greens, an oblique insert of red paint, almost a painting within the painting that seems to suggest a possibility of penetration to the inside the canvas itself. Furthermore there are as well the profile of three heads also painted in red, that of a bust inside which, as if it were hollow, a hand holds together another head painted in profile with other symbolic signs, and some mysteriously shaped stones, one of which is crossed by a cross – a symbol of transmutation, sacrifice and rebirth at the same time. Sphere of life and death, of reality and artifice, coexist inextricably in these allegorical figures in which, in particular, the reference to the human figure appears to express the multiple potential of artistic representation and interpretation: bodies, statues, effigies, skulls, skeletons, masks take on an aura that plunges the viewer into epiphanic wonder and amazement.