Leinardi suceedeed
in convincing
the town to
renovate an old
slaughterhouse.

text
Kyre Chenven

photography
Ivano Atzori

UNEXPECTED TREASURE

On the very tip of the Southwestern corner of Sardinia lies another wild island, joined to the mainland by a small bridge. Sant'Antioco is not a large island, but the eponymous main town is considered by some archaeologists to be the oldest city in the region and possibly in all of Italy. Further on through the rocky countryside, at the very northernmost corner of this ancient mini-island, lies the only other town to speak of - white-washed Calasetta.

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It is recognizably Mediterranean and, precisely for that reason, the town of Calasetta is strikingly non-Sardinian. The buildings are all white and blue, with narrow straight roads, built up right alongside the beach. The population speaks Italian, of course, but also Tabarchino, a particular variant of the Ligurian dialect with influence from both Spain and Tunisia. This town is where the artist Ermanno Leinardi resided for the second half of his life, when not showing work in Paris or Rome or the rest of the world. Leinardi was a transactionalist, a movement he founded with Ugo Ugo and Tonino Casula in 1966 that rejected Abstraction (too literal), Concrete Art (too mechanical), Gestalt Art (too calculated) and focused on the value of creating through the repetition of simple geometric shapes. In short, they used color and form in repetitive, graphic ways in order to express themselves.

Ermanno Leinardi, La città di Tabarka (The City of Tabarka), 1999

In 2000, Leinardi succeeded in convincing the town to renovate an old slaughterhouse located in the center and to open the MACC (Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Calasetta). This museum would permanently house a part of his sizable collection of paintings, sketches and prints from friends and fellow artists. The list of names is quite impressive, and the airy, bright space is pleasingly neutral. While Leinardi may have been heavily theoretical, his art, along with the rest of the collection, is easy to appreciate, being centered on form, shape and color. The art on show is vibrant, clean and captivating, all the more so as it spans decades (from the 1940's through the millennium).

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Unfortunately the artist himself passed in 2006 and the museum has since then floundered in various directions without quite being able to secure its path for the future. Some of the artwork is quite damaged and the building shows signs of age. It is undoubtedly urgent that the town find a competent director for such a small but concise treasure trove of contemporary art. In the meantime, though, there is something refreshing about being able to view such a wide variety of work from artists such as Lucio Fontana, Anton Stankowski, Aurelie Nemours and Leinardi himself in a setting so intimate and unpolished.

Catalog featuring the permanent collection of the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Calasetta
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