PAINTING AND I
Like Hokusai I begin only now, almost eighty, to actually grasp some understanding of the world. Better late than never.
With his usual good-natured wit, the great Japanese painter looked back at his past seventy years of life with calm dismay, acknowledging how hard it was, still, to interpret and translate into images the mysterious appearance of what surrounds us.
He knew then how to master in a perfect way those five miraculous senses
we happen to have, coming from nobody knows where and wished by nobody knows whom.
Sight was, for him, the most mysterious of them, the most upsetting, the one that still gave him his amazing, unique vision of reality.
Yes, we all are visionaries, whether we know it or not. And it may happen sometime that some people cannot halt the desire to rummage, more or less clumsily, in that marvellous appearance around us and that keeps us prisoners, the need to browse, translating it into gestures that leave a trace, a sign. Something that stays.
That’s happened to me. I can somehow express that desire. I can work with images and offer them to those who want to see. Hand them not to understand but to feel.
WHO AM I
Born in Maremma, in 1941. In spite of those dark times, my childhood was quiet, not sad. Rivers of blood flew also at that time, however we in Massa Marittima were reached only by the echo of that bloodbath. I remember very little of those times. I have only some spots in my memory: the dark, cool silence of the war-shelter during the bombings, a space obtained inside an old gallery beneath the Poggio, where we used to play and take our summer breaks.
I have more memories of the early post-war period: my mother sewing incessantly at the machine and gently singing together with her seamstressers, crammed in the small workshop of the old house in Via Goldoni.
That room just next to the toilet, where I could hear, anguished, the cruel giggling of the girls who always kept wickedly silent during my uncomfortable and embarassed ‘sessions’. And my secondary school where I learnt Latin, with Mr. Calosci, a great teacher of Literature, who, at the end of the third year ran to my mother to recommend that I should not be sent to the professional institute because I was, instead, extremely talented for Humanities.
Then, yet, the studies in the Art of Mining, because of that family destiny, meekly accepted as natural, even if feeling, already at that time, an irresistible calling to the aesthesis, to the attentive perception, to the amazement in front of the shape of things, the colour, the sign – well, the image, in any of all its possible manifestation –, to the beauty first and finally to the art, as a supreme synthesis of those feelings that were growing more and more consciously. A vocation that was summarily categorised as distraction by whom was rising me: you are always up in the air!
Pay attention! What are you thinking about?!
Then, in 1955, I met Oreste B. and discovered the Livornese way of painting: Fattori, Natali, Micheli, Modigliani… A universe of colour and matter that suddenly became an enchanting refuge for me, a fleeing and yet charming horizon in a world that was made already at that time by other challenges, well more urgent to be faced.
I still keep in my mind the long, hard ‘conversations’ with this awkward, poor deaf-mute painter, and yet so rich inside, brilliant and inconclusive. We immediatly established a deep intellectual harmony and he thought me an ancient technique, all the elements of a meticulous and proven discipline, that precious instrument to try to transfer on the surface the indefinable sensations inside you for your own and world’s eyes.
The years of my adolescence were characterised by this project, by this special, incredible dream: there was time and room for nothing but the studies in mining, and painting. Up to my twenties, a row of exibitions, of successful contests, a series of achievements in that calm province, aside from the more and more aggressive and widespread industrial society, that was already at that time, marching towards the magnifiche sorti e progressive’ 1 of modernity. I was living, still unbelieving it, the start of a true career as an artist.
But it was not easy to make a living out of painting, then as now, and thus, at the stroke of my twentieth, here it was my job, the real one: forty intense years in a row of career in industrial sector, which came to an end only at the outset of the Third Millennium, when ,the Humanities, literature and philosophy, fiercely sought to be heard and won every room in my mind, for six busy years at the University of Verona.
And eventually, Painting. Again and, finally, only painting. This time ‘forever’.