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Carlo Zinelli was born near Verona, Italy. He was only two years old when his mother died. Seven years later his father, a carpenter by trade, sent him to work on a farm. Carlo later became a butcher’s apprentice at the municipal abattoirs in Verona. During the Second World War he enlisted in an alpine chasseurs platoon. It was then that the first signs of psychological trouble became evident. At the age of 31, he was admitted to the San Giacomo hospital in Verona. Ten years later he started to scratch graffiti on the walls of the establishment. Faced with a need for self-expression on Carlo’s part, the hospital board permitted him to attend the painting and sculpture workshop created in 1957.
Carlo went on to produce almost 3,000 works. His graphic language is characterised by an accumulation of certain motifs and by changes of angle and scale. He painted animals and people in profile using gouache on both sides of sheets of paper and embellished his compositions with inscriptions.