Antonino Negri was born in 1961 in Lodi, where he runs his ceramics workshop called ‘Terra crea’. This is where he uses clay to make his masterpieces (in stoneware, fireclay, slip, semi-fireclay and glaze).
He developed an interest in ceramics as an at once traditional and innovative form of creativity, making several trips abroad to study the technique and exploring the world of handicraft and art. He frequented artists and artisans, with whom he has collaborated on a variety of projects since 1980: from theatre to ceramics, from sculpture to staging. He creates sculptures as well as installations on a large scale in squares, parks and churches, utilizing terra-cotta and other materials.
His workshop seems like a magic place, frozen in time, peopled by primitive and symbolic figures: animals, lamps in the shape of houses, vases that look like islands, male and female water carriers, vases in the shape of women, deities, arks, jugglers... Everything is scattered around the workshop, like a collection of creatures living in the same habitat. Among the animals we find fish, tortoises and turtles, the piglet, the owl, the whale...
Earth, water, fire and air are the recurrent primordial elements that inhabit the archetypal forms created by the craftsman from Lodi. They are forms in which technical skill and poetry are melded, the pure and perfect forms of ‘Terra crea’ which tell ancient stories.
Meditation, study and experimentation, together with the frequentation of important workshops and artisans in Italy and abroad and his experience as a teacher in an educational community have allowed Tonino Negri to develop a highly recognizable style, characterized by a delicate lyricism, at times lightly veined with irony.
His terra-cotta women are as beautiful and mysterious as idols; his arks and flowering structures are wonderful and delicate. The simple and evocative titles of his works are enough to conjure up the fascination of his world: The Moon and the Grouper, Source, Sky, Ionian, Fountain, Ark on the Rock, Ocean Ark, Nile, Passage, The House of the Owls, Naked King, Big Garden... A little universe deeply connected with nature, life, the plant and animal world, the very roots of our humanity.
Tonino Negri is acknowledged to be one of the great masters of contemporary ceramics and one its most original and intense artists.