Marco Petrus was born in Rimini in 1960, but from his earliest childhood he lived with his family in Milan. The son of an artist – his father, Vitale Petrus (Kiev 1934 – Milan 1984) was a leader of the Lombard art scene in the 1960s and 1970s – from a very early age he was interested in architecture, and paid particular attention to that in Milan from the 1930s and 1940s, besides being interested in experiments with printing and art reproduction techniques.
He gained a diploma after following a course for a graphics assistant from the Umanitaria institute in 1980, and graduated from the arts secondary school in 1984, the same year in which he registered at the architectural faculty of the Milan polytechnic, where he studied for a brief period. On the death of his father he opened an art printing house which was to become a place for meeting and getting to know other artists, a prelude to his debut as a painter in 1991with his first solo show in Milan.
The paintings from his first period are characterised by a strongly marked and insistent use of line, the legacy of his training and experience as an engraver. In these works, however, we can already see the almost metaphysical immobility of the architecture that was later on to characterise his work, almost like a constant “trademark”. From the very start he showed a great interest in architecture, in particular that of Milan, and above all its “archetypal-mythological” aspect in the 1930s and 1940s which were also a basic and anticipatory premise of what were to be the extraordinary developments in the city planning of Milan in successive decades.
With the passing of time, his lines became less and less marked and left space for an increasingly rigorous and linear play of colours, articulated by light and well-defined lines and fields of flat paint, part of a search for the concision and linearity of composition that increasingly characterised his art.
From the end of the 1990s to the beginning of the 2000s, Marco Petrus’ painting underwent a new line of development. He enlarged his analytical gaze, on the one hand, to inquire in an increasingly rigorous manner into the structure itself of urban and architectural forms, to arrive at the point of collaborating with architectural institutes and faculties in various countries; on the other hand, he came to embrace, through his strongly characterised view of things, recent and less recent urban forms of many European, American, and Asiatic cities and megalopolises, almost as though he were tracing out a multifaceted map of the infinite forms of architecture existing in the world. And so his work seems at times to take on the aspect of a rational summation of all the possible types of town planning, which he revisits through his particular pictorial style as an artist.
His most recent development has led him, in an increasing stylisation of form, first to flank his urban portrayals with their “counterparts” at an abstract level (lines, marks and simple coloured patches where there had previously been perspectives, angles, and windows), and then to “freeze” the very form of the urban landscape in a pure game of abstract stylisations.
In this way his painting, with its increasing analysis of the “space” of form, starting from the icons of contemporary landscape, has also progressively changed his own art language and formal approach to the canvas; he has slowly freed himself from a simple, figurative re-statement of elements and views of the urban landscape to become, instead, a rigorous and impeccable researcher into architectonic “pure form”.
In this way, his work of analysing the original form has become the pretext for a far wider research into the very meaning of painting and representation.
Michele Bonuomo, Marco Petrus, Style and the City, in Atlas, Johan&Levi editore, Monza 2014
Francesca Alfano Miglietti, Marco Petrus: Beautiful Cities, in Dalle Belle Città, Edizioni First Gallery, Roma 2012
Alessandro Mendini, Mendini on Petrus, in Synchronicity, Milano 2011
Francesco M. Cataluccio, Trieste and simulacra of Mitteleuropa, in Trieste al centro, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo 2009
Fulvio Irace, Painter of icons, in Petrus’ Milano, Edizioni Electa, Milano 2008
Elena Pontiggia, Petrus, Painter – Architect, in Architettonica Petrus, Edizioni Electa, Milano 2007
Alessandro Riva, Italiana 2003. La nuova scena artistica, in Italian Factory, la nuova scena artistica italiana, Edizioni Electa, Milano 2003