The Italian painter, graphic artist and sketcher Antonio Calderara (born 1903, Abbiategrasso, Italy – died 1978, Vacciago, lake Orta, Italy) first graduated from an engineering program at the Polytechnic Institute in Milan and then became a painter. In 1956 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale while in 1968 was invited to documenta 4, Kassel.
It took a number of years before Antonio Calderara finally arrived at his ultimate form of expression. From the late 1920s to the 1950s, the autodidactic artist experimented with a variety of styles, painting landscapes with an impressionist air, still lifes in earth colours, as well as portraits and melancholy figural paintings that recall the coolness of Neue Sachlichkeit from twenties Germany. During the 1950s he increasingly simplified the composition of his works in favour of a frontal and planar approach. His favourite motif now became an often hazy landscape steeped in pastel tones by the sunlight from around Lake Orta in upper Italy, where the artist lived for many decades. In his Lake Orta works he arrived at an ever greater abstraction. Landscape and architecture soon came to be completely stylised and reduced to geometrical forms, until only an echo or distant memory of the actual subject still remained.
From then on Antonio Calderara’s painting was characterised by a planar abstraction built up from colour and light, in which the picture surface advanced to become purely a play of subtly nuanced colour fields. The picture space became a space totally of light, which seems literally to glow from within. Of especial importance for this were the numerical and geometrical proportions he used, which is to say measure and order. But while Antonio Calderara was close in this respect to the representatives of concrete art, his paintings do not obey a rational concept for the colours and the imagery. The tender beauty of his works derives rather from a subtly balanced harmony between geometrical order and strong painterly intuition.