Paolo Icaro Chissotti was born in Turin in 1936.
In 1958 he began to practice sculpture in the studio of Umberto Mastroianni. In 1960 he moved to Rome, where in 1962 he held his first one-man show at the Galleria Schneider. In 1964 he took part in the III Ceramic Art Biennale of Gubbio, obtaining the Ministry for Foreign Trade award. In 1965 he was invited to the IX Quadriennale of Rome. In 1966 he moved to New York, where he lived until 1968. In America he created the Forme di spazio (Forms of space, 1967), immediately afterwards renamed Gabbie (Cages), metal structures where instead of occupying the space the sculpture becomes the place, the origin of that space.
During the American years he kept in close contact with the Italian art scene. In 1967 he held a one-man show at the Galleria La Tartaruga in Rome and was invited by Germano Celant to participate in the exhibition Arte Povera Im-spazio at the Galleria La Bertesca in Genoa, the town where he went to live on his return to Italy. In 1968 he held a one-man show at the Galleria La Bertesca, whose title Faredisfarerifareevedere typifies his artistic attitude. “Icaro explores space: a space to be explored with the body, to be measured physically and mentally, to be sought in the becoming of time. A space to be recounted, where planned and chance events, sacral intimacy and subtle irony are blended, leading to a continuous doundoredo&see of form and thought” (Lara Conte).
Between 1968 and 1969, he participated in the main exhibitions of the International art avant-garde, which sanctioned trends such as Arte Povera, Conceptual Art and Process Art. In fact he created actions in the Teatro delle mostre, Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome (1968) and in Arte Povera + Azioni Povere, Amalfi (1968). He was also invited to Op Losse Schroeven. Situaties en cryptostructuren held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969) and to When Attitudes Become Form, curated by Harald Szeemann at the Kunstahalle, Bern (1969).
In 1971 he again moved to the United States, to Connecticut, where he remained for ten years. During the ‘seventies he created cycles of work such as I luoghi del punto and Le misure intime, measurements of the body realized in different sculpting materials. At this time he started to use plaster, a material which acts on time, preserving the imprint of the rapid gesture which has shaped it. “Alone – or combined with stone, glass, wood, lead, paper – […], plaster becomes for him a material of excellence, able to express different plastic states (smoothness, shagginess, solidity, fluidity), their tension and energy” (Mario Bertoni).
During the ‘seventies and ‘eighties he held one-man shows in important European and American galleries, including: Verna, Zurich (1972, 1974, 1978, 1985); Françoise Lambert, Milan (1976); Marilena Bonomo, Bari (1976); Massimo Minini, Brescia (1977, 1982, 1989); Paul Maenz, Cologne (1978), Hal Bromm, New York (1978, 1979); Jack Tilton, New York (1985, 1986, 1989).
At the beginning of the ‘eighties he moved back to Italy for good. In 1982 he had a one-man show at the PAC – Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan; in 1987 at the Palazzina dei Giardini, Modena, presented by Dore Ashton and Pier Giovanni Castagnoli. In 1995 Danilo Eccher curated an anthological show of his work at the Galleria Civica d'Arte Contemporanea, Trento. During the ‘nineties he was invited to participate in numerous collective exhibitions: Arte italiana degli ultimi quarant'anni. Materiali anomali, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Bologna (1997); Au rendez-vous des amis. Identità e opera, curated by Bruno Corà at the Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato (1998); Immagini. Arte italiana dal 1942 ai nostri giorni, curated by Fabrizio D'Amico, at European Central Bank, Frankfurt (2000).
In 2006 he took part in the exhibition Museo Museo Museo. 1998-2006 Duecentocinquanta nuove opere per la GAM, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin. In October 2007 he was invited to create a permanent work for the Italian Department of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Some of the most significant one-man shows of the last few years are: Modalità, Lorenzelli Arte, Milano (2006-2007); Faredisfarerifarevedere, curated by Mario Bertoni, Centro d'Arte e Cultura Chiesa di San Paolo, Modena (2008); Le pietre di marmo, a homage exhibition within the XXVth Sculpture Biennale of Gubbio, curated by Giorgio Bonomi (2008); Biografia ideale, curated by Ludovico Pratesi, Centro Arti Visive Pescheria, Pesaro (2009); 15 Stele 15, curated by Lara Conte, Parma, Galleria Niccoli (2010). He has also taken part in numerous collective exhibitions, including Time & Place: Milano – Torino. 1958-1968, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero (2008; itinerant) and Italics. Arte italiana fra tradizione e rivoluzione 1968-2008, curated by Francesco Bonami (2008-2009). In 2010 he was presented by Massimo Minini in the section Back to the future of Artissima. In 2011 he showed Cardo e Decumano (2010) at Bologna, in the place of Palazzo d'Accursio, in occasion of Art First. The following personal shows were organized in these last years: Modalità, Lorenzelli Arte, Milan (2006-2007); Faredisfarerifarevedere, by Mario Bertoni, Centro d'Arte and Cultura Chiesa di San Paolo, Modena (2008); Le pietre di marmo, show in hommage to the XXV Biennale di Scultura di Gubbio, by Giorgio Bonomi (2008); Biografia ideale, by Ludovico Pratesi, Centro Arti Visive Pescheria, Pesaro (2009); 15 Stele 15, by Lara Conte, Galleria Niccoli, Parma (2010); Su misura, by Lara Conte and Mauro Panzera, Galleria Il Ponte, Florence (2011); I do as I did, Lorenzelli Arte, Milan (2011).
He lives and works in Tavullia, Pesaro.