Michele Cossyro Valenza was born in Pantelleria on 16 March 1944. He was a pupil of Pericle Fazzini at the School of Sculpture of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. In the 60s, he worked in high fashion and his jewellery was worn by the models of the Luigi Faraoni show in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti in Florence. In 1969 and 1971, signing his work first Michele Valenza, then Cossyro, he won the 2nd and 4th Italian competition for jewellery artists of Milan Il diamante nell’anello di fidanzamento (The diamond in engagement rings) and Diamanti oggi (Diamonds today), sponsored by De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.
Since 1978, he has held the chair of Decoration in the Academies of Fine Arts in Catania, Urbino and Venice; since 1987, he has held the chair of Decoration at the Accademia di Belle Arti of L’Aquila, which he directed from 1987 to 1995. He taught Decoration at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome until 2011. In 2014, the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome awarded him the title of: Emeritus Academic Master.
He was a member of the CIMAE Committee for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 1995 and is a technical consultant for the Ministry of Finance and the Italian State Mint. Since 1979, he has been the artistic director of La Salerniana in Erice. He lives and works in Rome.
In his initial brief period of training and research, the artist explored a personal approach to abstraction, with vaguely Surrealfantastic references. A constant presence in paintings and sculptures from this period are light and steep planes hanging in balance, expressing unease and social-ecological themes. The attention given to the ecology and culture of the Mediterranean, which has always been present in his work, is expressed and focused in the work of the seventies. It is for him that criticism invented the concept of Phenomenal abstraction, to explain his original research often expressed through Metaphor.
The 1970s saw: metaphors of the sea, vertical stripes, hooks, hulls, corks, feathers, object works, settings, defragmentation, disseminations and installations, which he showed at the Galleria Cortina in Milan and at the Galleria Artivisive in Rome. Towards the end of the 70s, and for all the 80s, always reflecting on space and the environment, Michele Cossyro further explored abstraction, always starting with Mediterranean emotions, memories and suggestions.
In the early eighties, he was among the founders of Narciso Art and produced the series of corner paintings, called ‘Narciso’. In this series, he develops the idea of the madness of painting, like Narcissus, looking at himself and going mad. In these Parallel Worlds – Accordions, painted parts alternate with mirror sections. They are also aniconic works, in which phenomenal abstraction is joined by new decompositions, defragmentations and tricks of perception. He continues along these lines until the late 80s, when his exploration of these themes culminates in the series: Stellar Derivations on show at the Galleria dei Banchi Nuovi in Rome.
Starting in 1989, he worked on the Nasse (lobster pot) series, which continued throughout the 90s. The Nasse are two-dimensional works, known as Pictosculptures, using the metaphors of the net, cage, capture, deception, and globalization. Also in the 90s, he dedicates himself to public commissions and produces many large works of sculpture and mosaics throughout Italy.
Since 2000, his artistic production has been directed mainly on sculpture, never forgotten, with the addition of two-dimensional signs. In the last decade, Michele Cossyro has used bronze and ceramics, with wall installations and placements that make Sculpture the accomplice of signs. The sculptural object placed on the wall interacts with the sign – a line drawing on the wall – and between the sculptural work and the sign, a new dialogue is established. The sculptural object and the sign, like a sinopite, make the work lose its fixity and become an open work in progress according to the transformation of the sign. These two inseparable elements, line and sculpture, are at the basis of his work in recent years, and include Metaphors of Journey, Echoes from the Bottom, Abysses, Interspace and Black Holes. The works of Michele Cossyro are present in Italian and foreign museums, in public and private collections. Information on Cossyro’s work has been published from 1973 to the present.
Over the course of his long career, he has taken part in the Rome Quadrennial (1975, 1986, 2005), the Venice Biennial (1984), the Milan Biennial (1989), Art Basel (1983) and the Biennale de Menton (1974). He has exhibited in over sixty solo exhibitions and in numerous collective exhibitions in Italy and abroad, and his works are to be found in important museums, public and private galleries and public spaces.