In 1975, Mario Canali had his first solo exhibition, beginning his career as a full time painter. Canali’s painting style was both figurative and fantastic exploring symbolism and surrealism, going against the trends of the times. His first critical and commercial success occurred in his native city of Monza, Italy in 1978

In the mid-eighties, Canali became intrigued by the artistic expression possible with the new electronic media and turned his attention to electronic and digital art. At the same time  Canali began a lifelong interest in using innovative scientific paradigms as the basis for artistic imagination. The artistic results of this interest manifested in Canali’s 1989 exhibition, Cosmografie, which featured Indian ink drawings.

Between 1985 and 1996, Canali moved to Milan and collaborated as part of the Correnti Magnetiche Research and Electronic Art Group together with Flavia Alman, Sabine Reiff and Riccardo Sinigaglia. Groundbreaking digital images and 3-D animations were produced by the group to widespread appeal earning awards at international exhibitions such as Siggraph in Los Angeles, Arts Electronica in Linz, Imagina in Monte Carlo and Nastro d’Argento in Rome.

By 1993, Canali began working with computer scientists Marcello Campione to create a revolutionary virtual reality installation featuring the use of immersive virtual reality for artistic and expressive purposes called Satori.

This work led Canali to team up with Elio Massironi, a renowned psychologist as well as with furniture designer Leonardo Aurelio, to create interactive installations capable of sensing psychophysical parameters which then expressed that data as displays of light, sound, images and video. The group’s collaboration resulted in a series of innovative works combining art, science, psychology and technology. Canali’s forte was established as his interest in social interaction and entertainment spawned nearly a dozen interactive installations. These interactive installations have been experienced by thousands of people in a range of venues from museums and trade-shows to raves and fashion shows, from community centers and private parties to technological festivals and psychology conventions.

In 1999, in conjunction with the Reload Cultural Association, Canali designed the Cultural Entertainment Centre in an abandoned industrial area in Sesto San Giovanni.

From 2000 through 2002, with performer Xena Zupanic, Canali owned and operated Ludiialydis, a psycho-bar, meeting place, experimentation and event production center.

The Arcnaut project was launched by Canali in 2003 as a series of events focused on the conceptual understanding of art, science and philosophy as well as their interactive dynamics. 

Canali began restoration on a building in Milan in 2004 with the intention of uniting in one place all of these experiences. The venue would serve as location for Canali’s creative projects, his research and development activities and home. This building became the new Studio Canali; residence and public meeting place, painting studio and research facility, art gallery and exhibition space.

Currently, Canali serves as a guest lecturer at the Multimedia Department of Brera Fine Arts Academy and ‘Cognitive Environments and Emotional Sceneries’ at the Digital Environment Design Master of the NABA Academy of Arts and Design in Milan. Canali lectures on topics such as Art and the Paradigms of Complexity.