The sculptor Mauro Baldessari was born in Rovereto, province of Trento, on 21 July 1942. His training took place in Trento, where he learned the technique of wood carving. In 1960 he moved to Milan where he worked at the studios of the artists F. Mina and M. Buttafava.
Later he graduated from the Art School “Fra Angelico” where, a few years later, he will teach nude and sculpture.
In the mid 60s he did an important experience in Burundi, where he founded an art school still active and he teached there. During the six years in Africa he created many sculptures and decorated six churches with large pictorial cycles.
When he returned to Milan, he combined the role of teacher with the activity of sculptor until 1980. The African experience influenced mainly the sculptures of this first period both in terms of the subject (The game, The harp player, In the name of love …) and in the type of representation.
ABSTRACTION AND FIGURATION
Later figuration or abstraction will be for Mauro Baldessari two possible ways to create sculptures, also in the same period. He chooses abstraction or figuration in relation to the subject and context. Both ways are carriers of energy, gestures and spatial dynamics, inner and outer.
Since the eighties and until today his research explores, with both modes of expression (abstraction and figuration), some recurring themes as, for example, the body, the sensuality, the feeling.
Through sculpture he meditates on the processes and dynamics of reality and with these reflections he created some series of abstract works: The Birth of Thought, the result of thirteen years of frequenting the center of studies of experimental psychology (Center Absence) and Thinking about … a cycle of portraits created by the absence of the physical person but by his presence as “unconscious memory” and a search conducted in the nineties with writings, drawings and sculptures to a NEW FIGURATION.
Driven by his experience as a teacher and his experience in Africa of an art conceived as an expression of the community, he refuses, since the eighties, the idea of an artistic production distant and isolated from the social context.
He leaves the world of exhibitions and competitions, and offers its expertise to work on commission. He accepts the dynamics of this kind of work: he listens to the customer and his needs; he listens to the subject of the artwork and to the environment in which the artwork will be placed. He actively involves the communities in the design of the works, such as, for example, in occasion of the collaboration with the Bridgettine Sisters for the works for their motherhouse or with the Italian community of Bolzano for the construction of the portal of the church of St. G. Bosco.
In Italy he creates sculptures – statues, monuments and panels in high and low relief, – for many religious institutions: the Jesuits, Canossian Sisters, Fatebenefratelli, Camillian Sisters, Bridgettine Sisters, Hospital Sisters, Teresian Carmelite nuns, the Capuchin, Don Orione, Little Sisters Holy Family.
The last ten years have been characterized by an important collaboration with the Institute of the Salesians of Turin for which he creates works in Italy and worldwide. These collaborations often transcend the construction of an isolated work but instead concern the total reorganization of the interior and exterior space of religious buildings: in fact he not only creates the sacred furnitures (such as for the Sanctuary of San Giovanni Rotondo), but he projects solutions for the reconsideration of the liturgical functions inside buildings (for example for the Church of Mary Help of Christians in Cordoba in Argentina and for the Marian shrine of Better Living in the Philippines, both redesigned in recent years for the Salesians).
Among its clients there are also municipalities, provinces, regions, universities, banks, companies and some private. In Trentino for example he created two great cycles of sculptures for the Federation of Cooperatives of Trentino and for the cooperative of Sait.
In the field of the coin, with the execution of nearly a thousand models and with his sculptural style, he revolutionized the taste and the setting of this sector in Italy and abroad, introducing the first “moved down”, the merger of the subject and the background in a sculpture.
The medals dedicated to Paganini, Stradivari, G.Mendel, A. De Gasperi, Manzoni, the municipality of Melegnano (MI), the travels of Pope John Paul II, the University of Padua and the year of Jubilee 2000 are particularly beautiful, original and prestigious.
All these medals were made for the most important religious and civil events: anniversaries, commemorations, canonizations …
The portraits are a privileged way to express for him. He has made more than three hundred portraits, all characterized by a strong psychological description. The style of portraits moves from classical bust to complex compositions in which the subject is represented in the context.
He got his training as a carver in wood and initially this was the most used material. The use of wood in this first period resulted in a style of sculpture characterized by sharp cuts. By the time he works in marble, terracotta, bronze, Murano glass, stainless steel and plexiglas. The knowledge of these materials allows him to combine these different media into complex and free sculptures.
His sculpting work is supported and accompanied by ongoing research on psychological, philosophical, expressive or more generally human themes. This research has enriched the activity of sculpture through an intensive and rigorous method. This method is based on a real and deep involvement in the theme played.
For fifty years he worked in the courtyard of Via Mac Mahon 14, a village of small brick buildings surrounded by greenery. These buildings were once the mill of the Renaissance Villa Simonetta and by the early twentieth century have become the “courtyard of the sculptors”. Not far from the Monumental Cemetery, the courtyard was the seat of the studios of marble workers and decorators who worked for important artists like Andrea Cascella, Cappello, Manzù. Currently the courtyard is dedicated to new functions of use and Mauro Baldessari has remained the only one to carry on and renew this ancient tradition of sculpture.