story of a painter

Giovanni Balilla Magistri


Silent painting

I’m not an expert in painting but simply born for years amongst the gleaming of watercolors and the scent of turpentine, hiding, for fun, behind the door of his studio while he remained unaware. I remember him in his gesture, the umpteenth stroke of paint as if he was to exorcize, with a last touch, what till then he had not been able to transfer from his mind to the canvas. While painting he used to speak with high voice, short exclamations that translated clearly his state of mind: it doesn’t work, it does not work. What it didn’t work was referred, for sure, to part of his painting with which he had trouble to make it have the finale ‘significant shape’ (Nigel Warurton, La questione dell’arte, Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi). During an exhibition of Lucio Fontana, a person unknown to him, murmured loudly: I know how to do that too. He turned around, quite annoyed and said: ” without doubting of your skills, at the very end all you will attain is a scant consolation of having reproduced that picture. He used to paint even when not painting, every moment of his life was devoted continuously in grasping all that could have been interesting to be transferred on canvas.

When forced to disregard his painting he became restless, gloomy, dissatisfied of himself and thought out expedients in order to go back as soon as possible among his colors and his world. He constantly read through his life, by considering that, where a drama takes upon, there exists the possibility to grab the ‘prime meaning’ of our existence. (more…)




Giovanni Balilla Magistri was born in Milan on June 1909, son of Raffaele, esteemed roman theater scenographer, and of Stamura Villa, third born child of Enea, dentist in the city of Bologne. From the early years of school, Magistri artistic bias was already spoken through design, and at the time of high school studies, he was soon inclined to attend the ‘Liceo Artistico di Brera’ (Brera high school of arts) at Milan. We may understand from a postcard sent in 1926 by Magistri to his parents’, how the family did not entirely share young Magistri intentions: “Thank you for the given consent, don’t doubt for colors, I’ll do my best in order not to waist money.”

Attending his favorite studies, Magistri, with natural ease, was promptly lead to look into great depth to light as a primary source of vision and perception of the objects to be reproduced both as perspective, as well as contest. The drawing “Il verone di Giulietta”, stands as a statement of this period, where the meticulous use of basic concepts and techniques are quite evident. (more…)







(from the presentation of the portfolio of engravings) Not much remains of the work of Table Magistri: paintings lovingly kept by the family, three panes of engravings from which sortie is this folder, and drawings, sketches, notations of study. Not much remains because Magistri is o86fmsempre been too hard on himself. If the work did not give him satisfaction, he destroyed without hesitation. Was shy of flattery, flattery, even the consent of the disinterested friends embarrassed him. the same I learned belatedly that art was his secret love: ten years after the first meeting and the subsequent practice of familiarity. That first meeting was in the early sixties. Magistri drew the covers of the series’ Le Silerchie “of” The Assayer “, for which the publisher was directing the necklace instead of art. It was however a designer sui generis. He formulated the image to cold determination of style, but for penetrating intelligence of the text where the image had to adapt. A man of culture who loved culture conceal under a mask of subtle and sometimes light-hearted irony. If I look at the paintings, that culture shines through at every step, however, it governed by an original vision of the world. Added a “Lombard line” that would never betray, did not however vanificarla within a lifeless landscape painting. If we look at the drawings and, in particular, these recordings can not not deduct the landmarks that were of his generation, the middle generation: the post-cubism, expressionism, English sculpture. Magistri occurred, comparing, experimenting, and yet never passively translating the lessons of others. Always he impresses itself on the work the touch of her imagination. For a long time I saw him, for other roads as there walked. Then, for an insurgent desire for dialogue, a dense series of meetings. Magistri kept intact the faiths of a boy we could finally talk about his work, without having to linger in the choice of images to instrumental destination as it does on the tables of an editorial staff. Unfortunately the evil undermined. Perhaps in the creative it identified a form of resistance all’inesorabilità of fate. But, suddenly, the evil it crashed. Also apply these three incisions remember. To criticism of them matters little. What matters here is that they go live His presence, the memory of an exemplary man, a friend unforgettable.
There is always something false in the texts that are included in the catalogs of art. Speaking positively or negatively by treating the works of those who have devoted much of their time to express themselves by telling himself, or the world, he assumes a deep knowledge of the author, the protagonist of that event culture. And this is hardly ever done. It remains then the opportunity to express an opinion only “technical”, but how you can reduce to simple equations of form and color, space and matter of the works that are gestures of poetry? All that remains, in my opinion, that abandon the rituals made of words too harsh and black columns of text to say a few opinions on the ground more alive and human language. It is known, first of all, that the paintings of Magistri however and wherever they are seen (“enjoyed”, he would say a technician) draw attention to the human story of which they treat. Is the face of a woman, where you can see traces of mild emotions close and remote, are groups of human figures, caught in attitudes that seem the result of long habits, or are simple objects, the viewer’s eye is She moves slowly, as if following the secret paths that bring in distant places but always in memory. The poetry of everyday life: this probably is the most attractive of these works, but at the same time forms enclosed in a kind of quiet will to exist emerges another component ‘felt’, which is present in the daily feelings of most of us . Just scroll quickly with his eyes from one painting to another figure from the other: and here emerges the crowd everyday, people who fill our lives, because we are a product of the society we live in. Not an anonymous mass, but the dull colors of different lives that between-run in the consciousness that every day the battles of life are won and lost at the same time. A crowd without power then, but not a subject people. These images then become a complaint, but not rowdy, not shouted: a simple statement of conscience. There is, in these paintings, direct engagement and fanatic who wants at all costs to communicate immediate sensations, and even the sterile aesthetic forms distilled from a world of confusion: there is only one long story, with matures experience, takes on a form which it is evident in this exhibition: that of a complete sequence of poetic gestures.
GB Magistri: evocation and interview without enigma If there is a fundamental idea in painting GB Magistri, this is the position in the absolute sense of form on the surface as a moment of natural cognition perspective, represented on the extent of the symbol, the symbol on the meanings that may suggest the presence of course in the modeling of a picture-in rear. Form is everything and more than everything. It reveals the central point of his themes: human bodies, still lifes, landscapes, decipher a virtue not only ordinativa, but objective, determined by a series of upheavals and sharp, color illusions and physical values ​​of things. He thus arrives at a real – rather post-impressionist omologali in size, with determinations risapute and canonical summary of gestures and idealizations camouflage – captures the relationship of light with the figures, perspective space with the quiet intelligence of the dream, the overall ratio of expressions with a structure bristling with signs and matter, which regains the sense of the world, participating in the return of the mythical concept of painting with individual ideas to the question of do their own feelings and evocations, style privacy and episodic experience. U.K. Magistri he belonged to a time notions spontaneistiche than running down the risky path of fashion, the solemn and prestigious styles of the twentieth century Italian and foreign; his frame of mind found himself, for example, the French painting as a magical component to reach the result of personal emotions. Color theory is interwoven with the spiritual space of the registration it comes from the universe and all of its cultural choices, on their own, according to the laws of seduction for something, for a distinction inherent interiority which binds always a corresponding synchronization of situations and dramatic aesthetic, ideological and linguistic, unfortunately discontinued. The lesson of the French nineteenth most impressive he found one of his followers more myths and affectionate; his painting is implied in every ontological gesture of that tradition; However, he has not missed any of the freedom that painting offers the contemplative consciousness of an artist, the emotional cognition, scrupulous, the incidence of modesty that Nature has reciprocity with the intellectual passion. So U.K. Magistri became in some respects a style run on the wingman relationship with the teachers that Cézanne lead almost to Sisley, from Manet to Othon Friesz, Matisse and Derain. Shade (and the light) of Codest protagonists – who appendices Italian in Roses, just to name a few, Carlo Levi, Strabo, Guttuso – his adventure has become systematic, more secure, careful, so as not to cause, for his fame, chronicles special exhibitions reading public, promises and certainty of success, fighting negative and positive developments for any of his ideas, public actions, testimonies introductory statement of the picture more than the taste of the name that matters which is becoming a reference in point when it comes to an artist. He worked without asking for nothing more than the art nitidità of its resources, the horizon more conspicuous to be beyond the quarrels of the academy, the ridiculous strategies to succeed; as still it happens in some elderly and botched teachers, who undoubtedly were never sent to its own achievements and even enjoy such esteem (at least among the old sentimental painting of a generic push on climates of poetic impressionist bleak and joyless; indeed cracked in a series of motions provincial, without beauty or meaning, and with hopes so uncertain that they never crossed the blessed dreams of a small world lost in the mold of the schools, where they teach or have taught for decades). Let alone the amateurism of certain so-called wild-eyed and effusive surreal tracking Nothingness nothing universal in total, and in the context of false calls dialectic, however transient and distressing. In this sense Magistri was favored dall’autodidatticità lived in full discretion, without advertising confrontational and hoarse, but in a more autonomous, responsive to his ego. them his trip, evocation, also enables it to confess their pictorial associations through some human figures, he suffered, conducted in the elaboration of his own feeling with an essential operation, expanded, sadness without enigma misery realistic. Other testimonies are manifesting more and modernizing the artist’s ability to achieve results more current, medium-challenging, with development and plasticity of breaking that remind the graphic Rouault, combined with an essential structure of phenomenological continuity. As Codest cases can not define a realistic painting of protest, as well as still used today in the slopes of museificazioni ideologistiche, let alone an abbreviation summary of a particular poetic, it’s primary events in his painting, decided by an organic store the habits of a version in the wake impressionist painting, solidly linked to the initial character of the traditional charm of expressiveness, in which the landscape is quite mortified. Nor to overlook certain values ​​of chiaroscuro, the temporary abandonment in a baroque vision in the context of certain still lives, to a decomposed, perhaps Picasso, Cubist, deployability of modulations between geometrical figures: almost an attempt to get out of the block of issues and made by materials hot impressed with the enthusiasm of those that modify the materials available to a desire to transform their own destiny, however, to direct it towards effective and accomplished angles inventive. The attempt to change to evolve the painting, which eventually seemed to Magistri something that was part of his personality secluded, demanding vocation of the subsidiary, was in any case the same way to renew itself, to distract the eye from the past even so important and historically reversible; and establish a happier group of svolgimenti sentimental and technical; the pleasure, if ever, to multiply them in his own passion, to reinvent them maybe on the mistakes made by the fire of inner temperatures and in contact now with the most creditable experience. Anyway spiritual dimension not to be forgotten, rebuilt structures genuine, never gratuitous, no doubt to communicate to others their own real truth of solitude, memory, signs intimate with painting, in the course of that gradual and delicious farewell that deep It is for us all the private and public mystery of life, especially when it acts in the alphabet key of her ecstasies. Dominic Dear
Magistri, shows a series of pictures revealing a problematic expressionist calibrated setting exasperated and made with intelligence, and therefore far from easy complacency. Psychological problem which, precisely because of its determination to the absolute, remains forcibly below, in the result, the author’s vision. Except that the search for the means of communication which, naturally leads the author to the exasperation of the matter, the matter is not an end in itself but a pretext, means to seek sensory emotion which alone is proof of art. Francesco Boneschi
Those who love the beautiful picture aesthetically solved for the pleasure of the eye does not go to see exhibitions of Magistri; His painting is only reserved on the emotional strain. A still life, a landscape, a portrait or a composition in his palette is not the depiction of the subject but the emotion that the subject arouses. Careful draftsman, colorist and composer, elaborates equally carefully everything that has spread in the first analysis to take away the material objectivity and exacerbate in emotional strain. Not subject to any groups, modern painter, keeps in his work the honesty of Pittmanifesto shows Arengario (1975) ura and its evolution. Released from Brera where teachers hardly have earned him never left out the palette, though in a reduced form. Calibrated by ten years of “forced” military life to live preferred strive in a thousand ways, disdaining to make painting commercial and easy accontentatura. His paintings are few, the most destroyed because they were considered insufficiently achieved; for those few personally I do all my approval.
There are painters who adapt to nature in respect forms the works of Creation and there are artists who, to better express their thoughts, rape shape believing to be able to fully express the idea that it was the father’s work. It is an expression of shock, to bring better attention, the eye, the torpor of the public, either lingers in front of every artistic form of expression, in different Art Galleries, calmly, but terribly indifferent. Painting featuring Magistri is a violent Expressionism that had, in the past centuries, masters such as Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Masaccio, and in more recent years Cézanne, Van Gogh, Roualt, to name a few. But our artist does not refer to the Department of the past, since his works tend to a frantic personal expression where the pictorial message to a world saddened, towards a society disinherited, it tends to raise the subject in the character of art. There is a whole human world, beyond which our artist, in a sensory vision, there is a glimpse of a progressive extension of great lyricism, and even if among the glittering and the uncertain leap out figures almost unreal, is always the dominant pictorial poetry that knows how to make even the beautiful gorge. Magistri lives in a very personal and artistic independence of the studies in the Brera have inculcated he expresses the eternal rebellion dogmas, the vestments, the techniques that the Academy had always obsessed. It’s a great explosion of rebellion, it is a triumphant hymn to freedom of painting that he always had dreamed. Tato Mazzieri


An artist of our time unscathed by miths

by Raffaele De Grada

In the long history of painting of the twentieth century many great minds have gone lost to the knowledge not only of the public but also of experts. A first method of research to regain these ‘minds’ is to rely not only on the recognition of values of those who practiced painting and sculpture in a professional way, but also to seek works of those who, although having practiced a profession that has granted them the means to live, have also worked with dignity and value in the field of the artistic creativity, often obtaining better results then professional artists, of whom we generally tend to consider. The correct method is to open with disenchantment, with less irony as possible, to the continue instances of revaluation. A bad habit is to rely on any form, setting a ‘castle of words’ adjustable to any expression. Since prehistory, man apposed his handprint on caves walls to exorcise his fears. This is not yet an artistic act that’s worth considering as such, although today to be considered an artist, it suffices to expose a bowl with iron pieces in a respectful art gallery.

With this premise I have approached Giovanni Balilla Magistri, a person who managed to conquer a good fame during the fifties as graphic illustrator being part of the prestigious team of the Saggiatore of my good friend Alberto Mondadori. I was immediately impressed by the individuality expressed in his early life designs, when at the time, mid twenties, he attended the Liceo Artistico of Brera. He was born in Milan on the 2nd of June 1909. From this spontaneous vivacity, Magistri, was admitted to the Brera Accademy, where he begins to formulate his vision of things, coming closer, with love, to nature lived not in silent contemplation but in its plentiful action. Magistri is also attracted by the building activities for the new railway station of Milan, Stacchini’s old project, which occurred during that period (1928-29), the livelihood of a seaside harbor. Magistris is already painter as others, although not many, of the same period. You need only to look at the synthetic essentiality of his ‘Porto di mare’ of 1929, a watercolor fresco of an excellent post-impressionist school. (more…)





Presentation of Mr. C. A. Galimberti at Galleria Ponte Rosso, Milano

Giovanni Balilla Magistri

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