Sunday 25 February 2024
at 5:00 pm – Gottarelli Foundation Hall - "I colori ...

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Wednesday 13 March 2024
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Tonino Gottarelli
Tonino Gottarelli's life and artistic career

Tonino Gottarelli was born in 1920 in a little street in the centre of Imola, which was to have a strong influence on his way of life. He was educated, before attending elementary school, by an eccentric man who lived in the same street and who spent his days teaching small children in the neighborhood. Throughout his childhood he was encouraged to pursue an assertive, stimulating way of life, which did not however weaken his sensitivity. He obtained excellent results at school and completed his education with a degree in philosophy from Bologna University, writing a thesis entitled "Aspetti del problema gnoseologico" (Aspects of the gnoseological problem). When he was 20, he wrote a novel "l’Ideale", which was published during his military service in Parma, in 1941. One year later, in the infantry barracks on the mountain pass of Moncenisio, where he was a second lieutenant, he wrote a book of short stories, "Il gioco", pubblished in Imola. The war did non diminish his passion for philosophy. Then, while continuing to develop his poetical credo, he started to paint around 1950.

Later, in 1953, he revealed his most intimate being with a collection of poetry, "La pioggia in città" , followed, a year later, by "Dove abito io", and then, "E di alberi non si è detto ancor nulla".

He started to teach history and geography at a middle school, until his interests moved into the field of child psychology and he became an elementary school teacher in the outlying areas of the Imola district. He wrote and painted continually.

During this period he decided to go to live in the country. In a house on the banks of the Sillaro, near Castel San Pietro Terme, near Bologna, he wrote his poem "Il paese del diavolo".

In 1960 he won the Cervia prize for his collection of poems "Ieri e oggi". On this occasion he met the literary critic Giacinto Spagnoletti, president of the jury together with Giuseppe Ungaretti.

Spagnoletti was later to present Gottarelli’s collection of poetry entitled "La bambina e la rivoluzione", published in 1971, with an eminent introduction. His first solo exhibition of paintings was held in Faenza in 1960. This was followed in 1966 by a more mature exhibition in Paris, which led to an invitation to the "Salone di Maggio". His love of nature prompted him to move around continuously, from one house to another, until he finally settled in the Pediano area of Imola, where he stayed for almost 15 years, in a very isolated house where he attempted to breed horses.

The publication of his novel "L’amore al rallentatore" dates from this period. He then started to write a collection of philosophical/love letters, in the form of a diary, which he published much later, at the end of 1981, with the title "Lettere Inutili". His philosophy and poetry acquired a new depth, and his passions achieved an echo of an existential dimension, the profound, continual tension of his state of mind, in this prose. This was the year that Gottarelli moved from the country into the city, to Via Spaventa. However, his thoughts and poetry were not disturbed, but acquired an inner strength that differed from his impressionistic works. Continuing his artistic ambivalence with the same fervor, he achieved equally important results and one could say that his poetry is "talking paintings" and his paintings "silent poetry".

Eight years later his splendid collection of poetry "Vita di un’idea", with which he won the first Lions Club prize in Milan, was published. This was followed by "Riassunto del cielo", a book full of metaphysical questions and discussions: The second edition of "Lettere Inutili" was then published. In November 1992 he published "Pensieri in prospettiva", a work which expressed Gottarelli’s growing intensity and passion for meditative thought and the problems of human society. 1995 saw the publication of the book "Musa a domicilio", a work that collects the contemplative spirit of a man who is still in a position to "feel" with his eyes; but his rediscovered wisdom makes him more and more isolated. We find him writing and painting his most recent works in by now habitual loneliness, deep within an intensive but conscious commitment. In the words of Thomas Mann: "…it is certainly a good thing that the world should only know fine works of art, but not their origins, the circumstances of their creation; since a knowledge of the source from which their inspiration derives would disturb them, filling them with dismay and denying the flow of Excellence"!

Tonino Gottarelli died February 20, 2007


  • 1960 First solo exhibition in Faenza
  • 1966 Collective exhibition in Paris
  • 1967 Collective exhibition at the Great "Salone di Maggio" in Paris; he also exhibits at the Art Gallery "Le Muse" in Bologna
  • 1968 Exhibition at the Art Gallery "Cavalletto" in Castel S. Pietro Terme (Bologna)
  • 1970 During an exhibition in Lugo di Romagna (Ravenna) he interprets the Italian Risorgimento by means of a set of collages shown under the title "La Storia del libro di Storia" (History of the History book)
  • 1975 Anthological exhibition at the Auditorium in Imola
  • 1977 Exhibitions in the Art Galleries "Lame" and "Farini" in Bologna
  • 1978 Collage exhibition at the Art Gallery "Meridiana" in Bologna
  • 1979 Exhibition at the Art Gallery "Farini" in Bologna
  • 1983 Anthological exhibition at the Auditorium in Imola
  • 1984 Solo exhibition in Udine, Bologna and Milan
  • 1985 Exhibition at "Casa dell’Arte" in Sasso Marconi (Bologna) together with Carlo Carrà and with the finalist at the painting prize "Cattabriga" in Bondeno (Ferrara)
  • 1986 He wins the prize at the competition "Incontro" in Palermo; Exhibition at the Town Hall in Bondeno and in Partinico (Palermo). Collective exhibition in Palermo by the curator Pasquale Bucci
  • 1987 He exhibits at major solo exhibitions in Verona, Rome and Taranto
  • 1988 Exhibition at the Rocca Sforzesca in Imola
  • 1989 Arte e Fiera in Bologna and Bari. He exhibits at the Art Gallery Sigismondo, Rimini; finalist for the literary prize Teramo
  • 1990 Suzzara (Mn) prize; Arte Fiera in Bologna; exhibitions in Milan, Verona and Rimini. He wins the "Master" painting prize, Ferrara; he has been invited many times to participate as a guest on the television programme "Maurizio Costanzo Show"
  • 1991 A series of important exhibitions is held at the Art Gallery "Il Gianicolo", Perugia, Academy Cattani, Bologna, Roma and Art Gallery Filippin, Milan.
  • 1992 He exhibits in Lucerna (Svizzera) and Art Gallery Viviani, Pisa
  • 1993 Dozza (Bologna): Biennial exhibition of the Painted Wall; Exhibitions in Caerano San Marco (Treviso), Institute of house Culture "G: Cini", Ferrara, Art Gallery Ghelfi, Montecatini Terme.
  • 1994 Exhibition at the Art Gallery Forni, Bologna
  • 1995 He exhibits at the Art Gallery Monteforte, Forte dei Marmi, Pisa and Milan
  • 1996 Arte Fiera Bologna; Exhibition at the Casa dei Carraresi (Treviso), at the Art Gallery Il Ritrovo degli Artisti, Trento. Exhibition at the Art Gallery Spazio Lanzi, Bologna
  • 1998 Arte Fiera in Bologna; Exhibitions at the Club La Meridiana in Formigine (Mo), Art Gallery Gagliardi, San Gimignano, at the Lingotto in Torino and Academy Cattani, Bologna
  • 1998 He takes part at Kunstmesse in Dusseldorf (Germany)
  • 1999 Arte Fiera in Bologna and collective exhibition in Perugia and Pisa; Exhibitions at the Club La Meridiana in Formigine (Mo), Art Gallery Gagliardi in San Gimignano, Art Gallery Puccini, Ancona
  • 2000 He takes part in Miami Art 2000, International Fair in Miami Beach (USA), prestigious exhibition at the Chiostri of San Domenico in Imola (Bologna)
  • 2001 Painstaking exhibition in San Giorgio in Poggiale, centre of Collections of Art and History of the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation in Bologna. He takes part at the Fair Lineart Gent (Belgium). Exhibition at the Room XC Pacifici , Forlì
  • 2002 Arte Fiera in Bari and Padova and a one-man exhibition at the Art Gallery Mentana in Florence under the sponsorship of the municipal authorities of Florence. He pays tribute to his friend Orlando Sirola with a beautiful exhibition at the Circolo Virtus in Bologna. An Important exhibition at the Circolo del Castellazzo, Parma. In November and December 2002 he exhibits at the Municipal Art Gallery and former fishmarket in Cesena and on this occasion the Regional Council of Emilia Romagna recognizes the cultural value of the exhibition and the artistic prestige that Tonino Gottarelli acquired during the years by awarding him a plate and a trophy
  • 2003 In April he is invited by the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg to exhibit his works in the rooms of the Munster Circle; during the month of May he is present at the exhibition "Vernice" at the Fair in Forlì. In November he exhibits at the Art Gallery Il Ritrovo degli artisti in Trento and in the same month he participates at the Fair of Contemporary Art in Forlì with an extensive exhibition
  • 2005 Exhibition at the Art Gallery "Il caminetto" in Bologna. In June an important exhibition is presented with more than 70 paintings at the Sala delle Colonne in cooperation with the Councillor of Culture in Rimini. Just a little later, in November, the City Council of Cesena organizes an important exhibition containing the last thirty years of the artist activity, entitled "Respiri di poesia" (Breaths of Poetry), at the Municipal Art Gallery together with the Foundation.


  • 1942 His first novel "L’ideale"
  • 1943 The collection of novels "Il Gioco"
  • 1953 The collection of poems "La pioggia in città"
  • 1954 He publishes two volumes of poetry "Dove abito io" and "E di alberi non si è ditto ancora nulla"
  • 1960 He received a prize from Giacinto Spagnoletti and Giuseppe Ungaretti at the Cervia prize for his collection of poetry "Ieri e oggi"
  • 1962 Literary prize from Avanti
  • 1967 The short poem "La botte di Diogene"
  • 1969 He publishes "Il pomeriggio degli avverbi"
  • 1971 Gatti Prize for the book of poetry "La bambina e la rivoluzione", presented by Giacinto Spagnoletti.
  • 1973 The novel "L’amore al rallentatore" is published
  • 1981 The book of art "Lettere Inutili" (1st vol)
  • 1982 Prize for poetry "E. Nicolardi", Naples
  • 1984 Finalist for the literary prize "Città di Bologna"
  • 1986 Finalist for the Lioness Club of Milan poetry prize for an unpublished collection
  • 1989 Lyrics collection "Vita di un’idea" for which he won the first prize in Milan
  • 1990 He publishes the psycho-philosophical essays "Riassunto del cielo"
  • 1992 The volume of reflections and aphorisms "Pensieri in prospettiva" is published
  • 1995 The short book "Musa a domicilio"
  • 1996 The second edition of "Lettere inutile" (2nd vol).