Sigfrido Oliva was born in Messina in 1942 and grew up in nearby Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto. A passionate drawer from childhood, at the age of sixteen he began to attend evening classes at the local School of Arts and Crafts.
In 1961 he moved to Rome, where he exhibited his work in various group shows and worked for some years at an art restoration workshop in order to support himself. In 1966, he started to attend courses at the Free School of the Nude and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Later on, he perfected his study of watercolour, etching, lithography and linoleography. He met important artists, critics and people involved in the cultural and entertainment scene, and in 1969 he held his first solo exhibition at an art gallery in the capital. Since the 1970s, he has exhibited in numerous galleries in Italy and abroad, meeting with increasing public success and attracting the attention of important art historians and critics, who unanimously consider him an exceptionally gifted drawer and a fine etcher.
Among the critics and art historians who have discussed and written on his work are Elio Mercuri, Carlo Levi, Domenico Purificato, Mino Maccari, Maurizio Fagiolo Dell’Arco, Alfonso Gatto, Enzo Siciliano, Renzo Vespignani, Bruno Caruso, Renato Civello, Luigi Tallarico, Enzo Bilardello, Raffaele De Grada, Costanzo Costantini, Gabriele Simongini, Claudio Strinati, and Giuseppe Di Stefano. Oliva lives and works in Rome.