Turi Simeti was born in Alcamo, in the province of Trapani, on August 5, 1929 and died in Milan on March 16, 2021.
In 1958 he moves to Rome, starts the first contacts with the world of art and, among the others, he knows Alberto Burri. His first works date back to that moment and are naturally influenced by Burri and his way of treating materials.
Also in those years, Simeti has the opportunity to spend long periods of stay in London, Paris and Basel, thus coming into contact with the avant-garde art of the time and moving in tune with the widespread desire to reset the tradition and pre-established codes of artistic expression. Within this rigorous reductionist aspiration, his language soon acquires a definite recognizability through the use of monochrome and relief as the only compositional procedures. Thus the figure of the ellipse appears, destined to become the iconic figure of the artist’s work and the sentiment around which his movement develops and unfolds.
Around the middle of the ’60s is the final consecration within the panorama of contemporary art, through the succession of exhibitions in various galleries. March 27, 1965 is among the artists gathered in the atelier of Lucio Fontana and that, at his invitation, take part in the exhibition Zero Avantgarde, staged in 1965 in the studio of Lucio Fontana in Milan, which will then continue with the same system at the Gallery Il Punto in Turin and the Galleria Il Cavallino in Venice. In July 1965, with Bonalumi, exhibited for the first time a group of works in Austria, Klagenfurt, in the spaces of Galerie Wulfengasse while in February 1966, held an individual exhibition at the Galleria Vismara, in Milan. Accompanied by a text by Giuseppe Gatt who, with regard to the works exhibited, underlines the symbolic value of the circle, which “(ascribable to exemplification of cosmogonic configurations that are strongly suggestive and, consequently, magical: sun, moon, perfection, etc.) is accentuated and, from the narrative surface of the painting, spreads to the entire objectuality of the painting which becomes an almost ritual, apotropaic organ, removed from the rhythmic continuity of time and space, a meeting point between the individual and the universe”, the exhibition was a great success and marked the real start of an expositive course that would bring Simeti, in the years immediately following, to move with ease both in Europe and in the United States.
In 1966 Simeti moves permanently to Milan, in Sesto San Giovanni, in the Quartiere delle Botteghe, where Felice Valadè, a wealthy builder and collector, had made available a series of spaces, in several adjoining buildings, to be used by artists as studios. Here Simeti finds himself working in a particularly fertile context, which tends to be anarchic, where exchanges and the transfer of ideas as well as clashes were the order of the day, given the distinct and distant personalities acting simultaneously. In the Quartiere delle Botteghe also have a studio his friend Enrico Castellani, Agostino Bonalumi, and many others including Giuliano Barbanti, Mario Bionda, Mino Ceretti, Fernando De Filippi, Luciano Fabro, Attilio Forgioli, Paolo Gallerani, Lino Marzulli, Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Antonio Scaccabarozzi, Aldo Tagliaferro, Arturo Vermi. Simeti remains there for several years, alternating his presence in Italy, where he participates in exhibitions in Rome and Florence, with stops linked to exhibition opportunities in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark but especially New York, where, invited as “Artist in Residence” by Fairleigh Dickinson University, he has the opportunity to live and work for long periods, until 1969, having on the other hand at his disposal a large loft on 23rd East owned by an architect friend of Italian origin, Tom Migliore. In New York, Turi creates large paintings. He increases the series of surfaces with ovals in negative of other elements and carries out what he started in Milan.
1971 marks a significant turning point in the artist’s path. With a gesture of radical contestation of language, Simeti gives life to a performance in the Galleria La Bertesca in Genoa: Destruction of a glider, of which he keeps the remains in blue bins signed and numbered. “The enchantment, the fragility, the privileged beauty of a being that goes above the others, its fall and vivisection stand for the vital impulse and the genitalization of anguish; the eternal tensions between Eros and the End. Love can act aggressively and even destructively. Through the expedient of projection, Simeti too disavows his own aggressiveness and ‘reproaches someone else’, on the object of affection, on the glider”, Lea Vergine wrote in the text written for the occasion, adding further questions about this action of destruction. From this break, however, does not derive a denial of his work on the surface, which continues unchanged, so much so that in later works the sense of rarefaction of the projecting presences will be accentuated, which, although reduced, manifest themselves as if they were enhanced.
In the eighties, stimulated by the passion for the art of Ludovico Corrao, Turi Simeti creates for Gibellina a sculpture in which the artist uses the traventino instead of the usual canvas (Impronta, slab of stone of 1980), where he transfers his geometric plasticism. Between the ’90s and early 2000s have followed uninterruptedly personal exhibitions in Italian and foreign galleries, including Kunstverein in Ludwigsburg, in 1996, the Galerie Kain in Basel, in 1998.
In 2010, thanks to the rekindling of interest in spatialism and its evolution, Turi Simeti benefits from a new attention from the Italian and international art world. Witness to this is the retrospective at the Almine Rech Gallery in Brussels in 2015, which offers for the first time an exhaustive cross-section of his fifty-year career.
In 2014 Turi Simeti was designated Artist of the Year and thus won the Premio delle Arti Premio della Cultura, at the Circolo della Stampa in Milan.
In 2017, Skira published the Catalogo Ragionato, edited by Antonio Addamiano and Federico Sardella, with the direct collaboration of the artist and the supervision of Essila Burello. The Catalogo ragionato of Turi Simeti, includes more than 1,800 works on canvas made since 1960 and offers for the first time a series of important unpublished images and documents.