Restoration of the “secular church” decorated by Carlo Ciussi

Ninety years after the birth of the artist, Fantoni has restored the auditorium of the Research Centre in Osoppo to its original splendour

Ninety years ago, the famous Artist Carlo Ciussi was born in Udine, and from right back in his student years at the art school in Venice, he was great friends with Marco Fantoni. Many years later, in 1996, it was this friendship that led the artist to paint the ceiling of the auditorium at the Fantoni Research Centre in Osoppo, designed by famous architect Gino Valle. This work came to require radical restoration, and has now been brought back to its originally glory.
Ciussi used acrylic on canvas to paint 18 panels with a blue background for the ceiling above the stalls, and a further 18 with a white background above the stage, covering an overall area of more than 100 square metres. The restoration work on these panels was carried out between August and November 2020 by the expert Alessandra Bressan, whose studio is in nearby Codroipo.
“Personally I was very impressed by the dimensions of the work and how well-integrated it was with the structural design of the building,” comments Bressan. “This perfect fusion of art with architecture resulted in the creation of a kind of secular church, where the congregation sit under a heavenly vault, like in a painting by Giotto, while the speakers’ table is almost like an altar, with the particular slope of the floor, and is lit from above and from behind, creating an apse-like effect. The imagery depicted by Ciussi on the canvases is dry, essential and conceptual.”
Ciussi was born on 26 January 1930 in Udine, and he died there on 23 April 2012. After a period of training in the studio of Fred Pittino, he attended the high school for fine arts in Venice between 1945 and 1949. Here he met Marco Fantoni, and a firm, lifelong friendship developed between them, which later expanded to include the architect Gino Valle. From this meeting of industry, art and architecture sprang what is rightly considered a splendid example of twentieth-century creativity.