The artist

Mario Martinelli was born in Treviso, Italy. He studied Literature at the University of Padua, where he later completed his PhD. in Contemporary Art. At the same time Mario Martinelli also studied at the ‘Accademia di Belle Arti’ (Academy of Fine Arts) in Venice. He has taught Art History for decades.

Martinelli's work as a theorist and as a teacher has always gone hand-in hand with his research as a practising artist. This research has evolved within a very personal theme of inward reflection, beginning in 1969 with his first 'unwoven canvas'. Chequered patterning on a surface, intended as a pure convention, is the unifying and recurring theme of all Martinelli's work, beginning with the 'stessuti' (unwovens) of the 1970s-1980s to the 'traspareti' which followed, the interplay of light and shadow both on canvass and on the walls of buildings.

Since the early 1990s Martinelli's traspareti have taken on the shape of the shadows that live within them, becoming metaphysical pirates, real entities which enjoy the ambiguous status of being both objects and, at the same time, doubles of the spirit, it's the ‘shadows-in-the-net’.

He exhibited at the 1992 Biennale in Lausanne and at the 1995 Venice Biennale expositions.

Since then, Mario Martinelli has travelled the world and flashed and blown among the city walls the passer-bys’ shadows, thereby emancipating them from the bodies they belonged to and showing them on a screen which disappears little by little. They so become an ephemeral monument of the miraculous inconsistence of men, their get-to-know themselves and their own disappearance (exhibited in Venice, Milan, Paris, Toronto, Montreal, Tokyo…)

When covered with the mesh of a net, these shadows, like new plastic graffiti, permanently surface on the city walls, which Martinelli insists on humanizing.

Art galleries and institutions all over the world have taken an interest in his work and have helped disseminate it. Art critics and historians consider it a poignant reaction to today’s widespread identity loss and loneliness as well as to our modern cities’ indifference for its citizens.


  • Renata Pompas, Fiber Art Italiana, un  intreccio virtuoso,  published in Aracne, 2017
  • Gisella Gellini, Light Art in Italy 2011,  Maggioli Editore, Segrate, MI, 2012
  • Francesco Murano, Light Art in Italy – New Works 2011, published by Maggioli, Milan, 2012
  • Elsa Dezuanni and Ennio Pouchard (a cura di), L’arte fa bene al cuore, GMV books, Villorba, TV 2011
  • Gisella Gellini and Francesco Murano, Light Art in Italy 2010, published by Maggioli, Milan, 2011
  • Giorgio Di Genova, Storia dell’arte italiana del ‘900 – Generazione Anni Quaranta, published by Bora, Bologna, vol. I, 2007 – vol. II, 2009
  • La pittura nel Veneto, Il ‘900, a cura di Luisa del Col o Paola Bonifacio, Elemond, Milan, vol III, 2009
  • Gary Micael Dault, Ombreti Angle of Incident, # 20, Toronto, 2006
  • Gianni Turchetto, Artisti, published by Tintoretto, Treviso, 2006
  • Giorgio Di Genova, Museo delle generazioni italiane del ‘900 “G. Bargellini”, catalogo delle collezioni permanenti. Vol. 7 e 8, published by Bora, Bologna, 2006
  • Claudia Mc Koy, Mix Gallery Mario Martinelli, published in MIX magazine, Toronto, Settembre 2005
  • Luciano Caramel (a cura di), Miniartextil à Montrouge, Filophilo, catalogue, published by Cesare Nani, Lipomo (CO), 2006
  • Luciano Caramel (a cura di), XV mostra internazionale d’arte contemporanea, Filophilo, catalogue, published by Cesare Nani, Lipomo (CO), 2005
  • Monica Burman, In the Shadow of David, in MAG, Mass Art Guide, Toronto, 2005
  • Maurizio Vitta, Il filo e l’ombra. Martinelli’s Work, in «L’ARCA. La rivista internazionale di architettura, design e comunicazione visiva», Milan, 2005
  • Giorgio Di Genova, Catalogo delle collezioni permanenti, Museo d’arte delle generazioni italiane del ‘900 “G. Bargellini”, Pieve di Cento (BO), Catalogo, Edizioni Bora, Bologna, 2005
  • Werner Weick, Cercatori d’ombra, documentario-intervista, produced by RTSI Swiss TV and published in dvd video 50’, RTSI, Lugano 2004
  • Pierre Restany, Tra le maglie della materia, 2002
  • Pierre Restany, Between the mesh of the material, 2002