Nik Spatari, born Nicodemo Spatari in 1929, is an artist with a diverse and hardly conventional training who has worked with many types of surfaces, pigments, and techniques.
The small Nicodemo is now Nik, a young artist full of talent. Nik puts 200 works on show, Eugenio Montale mentions him in the "Corriere della Sera"(the most important Italian newspaper)
A real success, Nik is invited to Rome, Milan, Geneva, and Zurich. A constant wandering from Calabria towards the rest of the world - this is the sum that follows all of Nik Spatari's existential and artistic experience. He is obstinately anchored to his Calabria and what it means in terms of myth, history, and nature, but he is decidedly projected towards a dimension that goes beyond nationality. An inflamed researcher who is attentive to new techniques, Spatari, though young, has already formed an incredible memory bank of emotions and states of mind. He is difficult to define or classify in any scheme.
In 1958, Nik is invited to the Biennale in Venice. He receives his first international recognition from Switzerland (followed by Israel, Yugoslavia, Germany, the Soviet Union, the United States) and settles down in Lausanne where he creates "Prismatism" and is greeted by art critics as an artist and innovator who rebels against classification. What is most affecting about Spatari's works is the way in which he arranges the colours that he has created as the terminating composition of a harmony of tones in a game of vertical and horizontal movements. In Lausanne Spatari meets a young Russian collector who invites him to Paris, where they marry. He becomes involved in artistic and cultural circles, and his painting is acclaimed.
It is in Paris that Nik becomes fully involved in architecture, and he is highly privileged to attend Le Corbusier's studio. He meets Picasso and Max Ernst and joins Cigaps (Centre International de Groupement d'Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs). Spatari receives everything from Paris, but he needs to change. While going through a moment of existential crisis, he meets Hiske Maas, a young Dutch artist, and understands that she is his life partner. He divorces his first wife and, in 1966, returns to Italy with Hiske, where they settle in Milan, the most European of Italian cities.
The decision is difficult to make, and is done gradually, and in the meantime Nik often works in relation to the architectural spheres (mosaics, sculptures, murals, and frescoes), where man is ever powerful and dominant. In 1969, following an ambitious project, he returns with Hiske to Calabria, to Santa Barbara, where he begins working on his project: the construction of a museum of contemporary art in the Vallata Torbido. It is a pioneer adventure, in fascinating and aggressive southern Italy, primitive and hostile, but their aims do not alter. Paradoxically, it is his Dutch partner, Hiske, with her intelligence, who supports him and encourages him. Aided by voluntary contributions but hindered by bureaucratic obstacles, they continue undaunted in their enterprise, the artist-architect fighting on with the determination of which sometimes only the self-taught are capable. Meanwhile, Nik participates in the 10th Quadriennale in Rome and then continues with personal showings in Brussels, Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Venice, Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence, Palermo…. At some point, Nik Spatari begins to deal with great Biblical compositions, created by his enormous expressive streak and erotic charge that permeates from all of his work. He shows 90 biblical episodes at the Jewish Museum of New York, where he meets Andy Warhol. From enamel paint he moves on to nitre, which is more adherent for the technique of material fractures and his new subjects: families, wild boars, coupling figures, and women giving birth. Nik receives acknowledgement and presentation from Prof. Umbro Apollonio, who is the curator of the "Biennale di Venezia," for his exhibitions in Montreal, Toronto, London, Amsterdam and Stockholm.
The magazine "Le Arti" dedicates its cover, "1950-1970 twenty years of world figurative art," to Spatari. But most of Nik's energies are catalyzed by Santa Barbara where he is involved in meetings and apprenticeships, workshops and projects, and artistic, architectonic, and environmental works. In 1973, Nik and Hiske invent the manifestation "Environmental Structure," which becomes one of the main characteristics of the history of MuSaBa. The idea is to improve the territory and the environment through sculpture-structures. Spatari is the principal executor of the monumental artworks designed by artists from all over the world for the new-born Mediterranean Art Park. Nik's artistic-architectonic-technical ability allow him to transform drawings and plastics into artworks (using so-called "poor" material) of great beauty and in perfect harmony with the surrounding area. In the 1990s, Nik begins working on "Jacob's Dream," a gigantic three-dimensional painting that covers the whole vault and the front wall of the chapel in the monastery Santa Barbara, measuring 240 square meters and dominating the ancient walls. Spatari creates the series "Pinakes," which is inspired by the votive earthen tablets the priests from ancient Locri, to honour the goddess Persefone, used to hang on the holy tree branches. The tablets represent men, idols, animals, and landscapes. Nik creates large canvases of Saint George the Cavalier and the Mediterranean myths, and in 2001 he paints the monumental panel "The Myth," which summarizes his and Hiske's life at MuSaBa. In 2002, Nik Spatari celebrates his 73rd birthday and over 50 years of artistic-professional activity. After field research that has lasted more than 20 years, the artist publishes a volume (350 pages) on his historical-artistic conception on art and architecture in the Mediterranean (7000 B.C. until to day), L'enigma delle arti Asittite nella Calabria ultramediterranea. In the book, the proto-historic origins of the western arts in the ancient Mediterranean, in particular the area of Locride-Medma, are sounded out, incorporating works of primary artistic importance such as the Ludovisi throne, the bronze statues of Riace, and the Locrese Persephone. This study contains over 600 comparative drawings done by the artist, which represent the fundamental part of the volume. The whole project and layout of this beautiful book are curated by the artist and realized in the MuSaBa Laboratory. But the most important "opera" done by Nik Spatari are the thousands and thousands of art works that are scattered world-wide. A major event in a grand Milanese exhibition space is being organised: the enterprise MuSaBa, the collections of the foundation, and a retrospective of the complete works of Spatari.