Sergio Birga

Born in 1940 - Italy


Sergio Birga was born in Florence in 1940. After graduating from the "Scuola d’Arte" in this city, he goes to Paris in 1965 to follow Lucien Coutaud’s engraving courses at the Fine Arts. He joins the Young Painting forum where he plays an important role in the late 60s and early 70s.

It is especially during three trips to Germany and his contact with the two generations of German expressionists that he will affirm his style and will adopt a work on the colour that will remain through his whole work, from every period. Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner, Erich Heckel, Conrad Felixmüller, Otto Dix will give him advice and influence, and he will exchange portraits with the last two.

Sergio Birga is very engaged politically and stands against the Vietnam War and more generally against all “imperialisms.” He bluntly denounces the customs and the structural organisation of the bourgeoisie, fights against the privileged status of art, artists and intellectuals who, for him, are mere servants to the hegemony of the bourgeoisie.

In the 70s his work bears witness to the destruction of the heart of the cities by real estate big business, of historical and popular neighbourhoods for the benefit of “luxury residences” for newly promoted managers. From the 80’s onward his painting moves away from the political argumentation towards a “poetic realism” which draws its references in classical Italian painting, from the Renaissance to De Chirico.

Sergio Birga gives a preference to urban landscapes, gardens, colonnades in a very assertive “magical realism”. Today, without giving up his lifelong themes, he is turning towards illustrations of literary or religious inspiration in which the line owes a lot to his training as an engraver. The Expressionist inspiration is present in every artistic period of Sergio Birga. Indeed it is more obvious in the aggressive speech of the 60s and 70s but nevertheless always present thereafter.

First through the use of often “raw”, "saturated" colours, which establish a climate of violence or unreality immediately felt by the viewer. Sergio Birga also excels at introducing a threat in the image by creating a gap between a seemingly insignificant scene and an abnormal detail or unusual colours.

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Sergio Birga - Rétrospective 1959-2007 - Villa Tamaris - Centre d´Art, La Seyne sur Mer


Franz Kafka - devant la loi - Espace d'art contemporain Eugène Beaudouin, Antony
Mythologies Quotidiennes 2 - Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM/ARC, Paris

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