about nino

selfThe beautiful thing about being an artist is that i get to call what is art. Like the matador Picasso’s handlebars or Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, it’s enough for the artist to declare ‘this is art’ for it to be so.
I’m not saying here, that artists are God like creatures strolling through arcadia bestowing their grace on whatever takes their fancy-No! It only happens  when your creative energy  connects with the object in question.

In 2004 Duchamps work was voted  the most influential art work of modern time! It’s curious that the link provided above goes to the- entertainment- section of the BBC News site. When i was starting out as a painter in London, in the seventies, i showed my work to a well known gallery director, who told me he was looking for art that ‘entertains’- a remark that i found mildly insulting at the time. But i suppose as you get older and less intense, the tag gathers some appeal- the idea of being an entertainer- and i must admit that i at least, find myself hugely entertaining. The job of judging how successful an art work is, or how entertaining- well that’s yours.

I have been very fortunate with my ‘art practice’ because the circumstances surrounding my chosen path have conspired to set me free for the journey, with the added bonus of providing decent studios in exotic places.

I left London in 1980 and moved to Italy, ostensibly only for 6 months but where i spent the next 20 years. Tuscany is a good place for an artist to spend his formative years and discovering the frescos of Giotto, and Uccello, as well as Etruscan painting and the transavantguardia gave me ample opportunity to expand my own artistic horizons.

Unlike the UK, Italy has a long cultural tradition of the pictorial arts and consequently there is more active support for artists, whether through business sponsorships, or community run artist associations and gallery spaces or translation into local sales. Popular interest in art, albeit more focused on landscapes and portraits than contemporary trends in art, still gives local artists a chance to survive. In the Valdichiana, where i lived, most of the houses I visited had original works of art on the walls with householders proud to show them. Once, i had the local police chief call me up at home to let me know that some official papers were ready to be collected from the station. This was unusual in itself that he should call and not one of his underlings, and when he asked for permission to call me Nino, i knew something was up!  He had a collection of paintings by local artists hanging on his office wall and went on to ask me if  i would like to contribute a work of my own?

In 1999, Judy my Australian partner  decided it was time to move back to Australia. For the past 15 years we had been renting an old  Tuscan farmhouse. The rent, a reasonable 160 pounds a month when we first moved in was the same as on the day we moved out.  By then, we had two boys, Cosmo and Toto, and largely due to them were to some degree successfully integrated into the Italian community. At home the kids spoke Italian while we responded in English. When we moved to Australia the reverse occurred; we spoke Italian, hoping to keep the language going, and they insisted on English !

Leaving Italy by choice was tantamount to a betrayal in the Tuscan mind or at the least an inexplicable action. Extricating ourselves was a delicate matter, but made easier when ageing parents far away in Australia were bought into play. Italians understand  family. The course we were embarked on was as inexplicable to me as to the others and i was very resistant. However, the reality is- nothing lasts for ever, and sooner or later we knew our circumstances would have had to change anyway.

So now i am blogging from Australia, from sub tropical Northern NSW. The boys have moved to London to pursue their own artistic careers (Cosmo Toto). Judy has found her paradise. I am still wavering, but in my studio and surrounded by palms and frangipani, with the distant sound of ocean in my ears and happy to report, after 30 years- that i still call it art.