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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.

He had no pity in judging himself but at the same time encouraged who ever wanted to approach painting, for many years appreciated only by few, he finished his life by painting till the very end a picture that he always had in mind. If loving something intensely often means jealousy, easily vulnerable and influenceable, being inclined in gathering all our strengths so that what beloved may transfer incessantly all emotions that we think only we may entirely feel, my father then was in love with painting. He thought that if he had put all his efforts for being appreciated as painter, he first had to win over to the merchant flatters that would have given him profit in exchange to his freedom of expression, forcing him to depict pictures that in a way or another attended the buyers expectations. That’s why he relegated painting to pure hobby but being professionally ‘over the lines’, scarifying most of his free time from work from engagements of sustain, as if he really was committed to the art painting world. So today, by looking at his paintings we feel no restrictions from those ‘compulsion’ and current constraints of the time, ranging in an unexpected way from a post expressionist style to cubist representations, although few.

Style in my father’s works is principally used as mean rather then fine in order to transfer a message. In every single painting you may avert his pathos, lived and conveyed as a story, that is to say not representations under instant frame shapes, but rather the story of that moment. If we examine with close attention the painting ‘Deposition’ we cannot but recognize several meanings obliging us to consider them as apparently collateral to the main event but that in an ultimate over look they represent the hub of the emotions felt by the characters of the opera.

The deposition of Christ is felt with complementary value: the regeneration. The mountain Calvario roughed on the dark background, on the up-right hand side we foresee the three crosses, as if he intentionally wished to divert the Observer attention from the event of the crucifixion. A prominent and disruptive role, the representation of two figures, the Virgin Mary and Christ. The Virgin Mary faces upwards, in a unusual position, open legs with Christ welcomed between. The Virgin Mary (mother), tries ideally to welcome Christ (son) in her abdomen in the desperate attempt in giving him birth again (regeneration) (resurrection). Both face with no forehead, a deliberate sign of impotence in front of death, the impossibility to bring a rational remedy to what has been done.

The right leg of Christ maintains a sort of vitality giving him a sort of chance for standing up again but this is unrelated to the rest of the body (resurrection). The different religions that have influenced or that will influence human perception of life today have, if deeply considered, a common denominator of values upon which my father forces us to think on, with the attempt to avert, in his message, a propose of universality of thought. This is how in his paintings, mostly those related to the last period, exists quite clearly the unremitting try to grasp and transfer the essence and not the material dynamism of the events that move along with the lived experiences. In the painting ‘woman cutting a watermelon into slices’, he gives a further demonstration of his desire as painter who intends, starting from the every day life, to carve a universal value. The roundness of the woman’s face and breast, as the rest of her body, conjugate, moving our attention in making a comparison with the fruit roundness. Also the tints used, basically three, brings us to consider a union between the subjects, main theme of the painting.

The question why a female figure is natural; is maybe this also a representation in its essence wanting to call the attention of all aspects linked to the procreative potentiality of women? The blade, held in the left hand is unequivocally a very sharp razor, which transfers to the scene a sense of troubled dilemma; almost a perfect cut has been carried on the fruit. If ideally we put close together each part of the fruit we would be able restore the whole perfectly from which they derive. To notice furthermore the right hand ‘passing through’ with no force, the table on which the two parts of the fruit lean on. The story hidden between the crease of the painting brings us to consider all aspects which are related to the transformation of the material; in nature, form and structure change in time leaving us to seek a leading thread of ‘unicity of the material’ between bodies that are as such only and simply thanks to the transformation and desegregation of other bodies. Our Being now, holds the ‘dynamic flow’ of the elements from which it derives. Thus style as well as color are in his paintings, a mean of dialogue, a method and research to think on all the reservations about life that unequivocally bestow us. The painting entitled ’cause and effect’ brings us to consider spontaneously, as main theme, the desperate try, of the child, to save the parrot, tighten between the cat jaws. Truly enough, the beginning of the story starts from the cage being depicted intentionally as open. It is not related to a stylistic need but rather to a compel’ to convey us to question: who opened the cage? The child, the cat or paradoxically the parrot? Of the three possible assumptions that of the bird self freedom is the most unlikely. Truly enough it is the same for the cat action, as we may notice that the cage is still well held and fixed on the room wall.

We are left with the third hypothesis, that of the child who, wanting to see the parrot fly, just for fun, and maybe involuntarily also to free the parrot, in reality takes him to death. The idea of considering that each one of us is set in a relationship of ’cause and effect’ in the events of life, I consider this to be the reading key to the opera. His still life represent the desire not to consider ‘death’ as the final drastic event. The adjective ‘end’ of life is proposed as ‘flowing in time’ with no definite demarcations between ‘being alive’ and not being. I’m not an expert in painting, but from the door of that studio a magic rainbow came out, that more then ever today colors my mind.

Giovanni Balilla Magistri

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