Biography

Costanzo Rovati was born in Milan on September 13th 1939.
Since childhood, he always showed a great aptitude for drawing, with a particular predisposition to curiosity and originality. After an academic experience marked by strong opposition by his teachers, who were definitely reluctant to accept artistic experimentation, he decided to do it all alone, in order to discover new forms, new expressions and new artistic horizons.
It was sheer chance that in 1964, during the renovation of a wall of his house, he discovered kaolin, i.e. porcelain powder, which, with the aid of rabbit glue and water, he was able to shape into bas-reliefs, which, once dried, became as hard as stone and therefore virtually indestructible. At this point, the spatula became Costanzo’s best-loved tool for creating his reliefs, that’s why his forms and figures actually seem to get out of the canvas due to their three-dimensionality.

Costanzo Rovati at work

Pictorial themes and emotions, combined with the colours that he prepares himself as an alchemist using earths, zincs and temperas, once dried, seem to move towards the visitor, who is led to experience, in turn, an emotion of his own and, consequently, a personal interpretation of the work.
In 1970 a friend of his to whom he had made a present of a work, presented this – without his knowing – at a prestigious competition, after which – to his great surprise –he was called to the Museum of Science and Technique in Milan to receive the first prize, which consisted of a solo exhibition to be held at the Scorpione Gallery in Milan.
On that occasion, the opinion expressed by the art critic Ignazio Mormino at the opening ceremony was: “It is common for painters to change their technique, but it is quite rare that, after changing, they improve; Costanzo Rovati has managed it instead; his works are wonderful music pieces, despite being so different from one another”.
Now then, the peculiarity of Costanzo Rovati lies precisely in the fact that he does not repeat himself: each artwork is the result of an emotion filtered through a huge photographic memory that, combined with his easy manual skill, would be translated into creativity. In 1985 he was invited to represent the Italian art at the “Tsukuba Expo in Tokyo”, and the following year at the exhibition “Masters of Contemporary Art” in Mexico City.
There followed the participation in the Festival International de la Peinture at the Château-Musée Grimaldi in Cagnes-sur-Mer, which opened its doors in Nice for “Viva Italia”, with a solo exhibition.
In 1994 he exhibited in Gassin Saint-Tropez, leaving an indelible mark on his creativity, as one of his works would be chosen for the logo and poster of “Tableau pour l’Amitié”, a campaign organised by the Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer of Saint-Tropez.
In the same year he exhibited in Geneva (CH), at the prestigious Musée de l’Athénée, with eighty works including large size pieces, meeting great success with the public, the critics and sales; on that occasion, Oscar Ghez, the founder of the Petit Palais as well as being an inexhaustible collector, bought two of his works.
It is at this point that the Milan-based architect Luigi Vietti secured for himself the creativity of Costanzo Rovati for a major real estate project in the Caribbean, on the virgin island of Canouan, preserved unspoiled with only few inhabitants, who still lived as hunter-gatherers, with no water or electricity supply.
On the island of Canouan, in the archipelago of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the artist would achieve more than 190 works using mostly natural materials available on the island, which would then be installed in the prestigious villas of the Carenage Canouan Island Resort.
Later on he participated in the renovation of the local Anglican Church, built by the Snagg family, who had come from England to occupy the island in the 18th century, for which he created a large panel measuring 5×3 metres, placed in the niche above the altar, together with three stained-glass windows.
After this immense and challenging work, he moved with his wife Ingrid onto the nearby island of “Mayreau”, where, living in conditions which were quite the opposite of a holiday (without water or electricity), he delivered a course of applied art for some local youth.
His stay on the island lasted about two years, during which, in addition to teaching them drawing, perspective and colour effects and their combinations, he painted 35 works on wood, which were eventually donated to the local Catholic priest, Mark de Silva, who would hang them at the Costanzo Rovati Museum, purposely built beside the church.
Back in Milan, after a five years’ period or so spent there with enthusiasm and absolute freedom, they decided to leave the Lombard metropolis to settle among the hills of vineyards of Montù Beccaria (Oltrepò Pavese), not to retire to private life, but to bring and share their cultural background in a province rich in traditions.
There, thanks to their acquaintance and mutual respect with the mayor of Stradella, the hometown of the accordion, he was commissioned three major works for the Social Theatre (also called “The Small Scala”), built in 1843 and restored to its former glory through an intelligent and conservative restoration.
Moreover, for the same Municipality of Stradella he also made a prestigious copperplate engraving folder (print run 100 copies), with the aid of a semi-rigid matrix previously engraved, then inked and pressed by force of arms and shoulders directly on lithographic paper.
In 2002 he was invited to the Biennale Austria, and in 2005 to the prestigious Florence Biennale, held at the Fortezza da Basso (a fortress now home to major exhibitions and cultural events); then solo exhibitions followed each other in Piacenza, Castell’Arquato, Cecina, Broni, Stradella, Milan, and Pietra de Giorgi. In the latter town, where he held many solo exhibitions at the magnificent “Cantinone Medievale”, Costanzo Rovati was awarded honorary citizenship by the Municipality, as well as being dedicated a room with eight works on permanent display.
In 2008, with a presentation by Prof. Paolo Levi and the Consul of Peru, an exhibition was opened at the Culture Hall in Stradella under the name of: “Contamination on the Nazca Lines, Peru”. On the same evening, the publishing house “Giorgio Mondadori” was present with the monograph “Costanzo Rovati, works 1964-2008”.
In 2012, he made a copperplate engraving for the Municipality of Pietra de Giorgi (print run 35 copies) on the occasion of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. There followed, in 2013, again for Pietra de Giorgi, the construction of the monumental iron sculpture dedicated to the local patron saint, St. Anthony Abbot, who protected the citizens against the plague in 1574, while in 2015 he held an important anthological exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute in Prague.
In 2017 in Florence, at Palazzo Gamberini, a 150 artworks anthological exhibition focused the key points of his 50-years activity.
In 2018 the solo exhibition “Percorso di vita”, in the Citadel of Victoria and the donation of the artwork “Insegnamenti” to the Diocese of Gozo; in the same year the personal exhibition “Vibrazioni, emozioni” at the Chancellor’s Palace in Valletta.

In 2019 the personale exhibition “Il filo rosso della vita” at the National Library in Cosenza create a dialogue between Rovati’s works and the local archaeological site.

The works of Costanzo Rovati are on display in important public and private collections in Italy, the US, France, Germany, Switzerland, England, Netherlands, Martinique and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.