Carlo Zinelli

Italy, 1916 – 1974

Carlo Zinelli was born in San Giovanni Lupatoto into a family of seven children. In 1936 he finished his obligatory militar service and volunteered for the Spanish Civil War, most probably as a stretcher-bearer. Two months later, suffering from schizophrenia, he was admitted to a military hospital. In 1947 he was definitely admitted to the San Giacomo alla Tomba Psychiatric Hospital. In 1956 he started attending the painting workshop created by the Scottish sculptor Michael Noble and the physician-psychiatrist Mario Marini. He passed away from pneumonia in 1974. Zinelli used a paintbrush as though it were a pencil and had an extraordinary ability for colour. His characters were depicted in profile, as shades or figures against the light. His work was highly autobiographic and spoke of the countryside life, its animals and activities. Chromatically rich, his paintings are in dialogue between full and empty, background and foreground. The white circles that penetrate most of his characters can be interpreted as bullet wounds and allude to his war trauma.