Marco Tirelli (b. 1956, Italy) is an artist whose practice explores core concepts of painting and sculpture, often with mesmerising consequences, to create powerful tensions between illusion and reality, between light and darkness. His academic and versatile use of tonality results in complex spatial distillations, informed by numerous sources around him. These include his studies as a set designer and his interpretations of his hometowns, Rome and Spoleto, of their complex and layered histories. Tirelli began exhibiting in the 1970s as part of the New Roman School. He activates the mental realms of collective cultural memory and conventional conceptions of value. Subtle yet provocative, Tirelli’s distinctive explorations of objecthood are showcased through traditional approaches to painting, including the attention to geometry, proportions, symmetry, and illusionistic plays of light and shadow.

In 1982, he participated in the Venice Biennale for the first time as part of Achille Bonito Oliva’s and Harald Szeemann’s “Aperto 82” section. He would later exhibit at the Biennale a second time in 1990 and a third in 2013 as part of the Italian Pavilion, where he
presented his large-scale installation of the “Studiolo”. The same year,  he had an exhibition at the American Academy in Rome, where his series of drawings were placed in conversation with the works of American artist Sol LeWitt. In 2001, he presented a site-specific installation at the Fondazione Volume! in Rome, where he engaged painting in an environmental dimension. 

Tirelli graduated in scenography with Toti Scialoja at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. He lives and works between Rome and Spoleto, Italy. In 2023, Tirelli became the president of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca; he is also a member of the Academy of Virtuosi of the Pantheon.

Selected Exhibitions

Venice Biennale, Italy; National Gallery of Modern Art, Italy; Istanbul Biennial, Turkey; Sydney Biennial, Australia; MACRO, Italy; Museum of Palazzo Fortuny, Italy; Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Belgium and China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Turkey; Modern Art Gallery (GAM), Italy; Institut Mathildenhöhe, Germany; Fondazione Cerere, Italy; German Academy of Villa Massimo, Italy; Instituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Italy.

Selected Collections

MAXXI, Italy; La Galleria Nazionale, Italy; MACRO, Italy; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Farnesina Art Collection, Italy; European Parliament Art Collection, Belgium; MART, Italy; Il Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Italy; Palazzo Fortuny, Italy; The Albertina Museum, Austria; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Austria; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.


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