Picture Postcards?

On October 2nd an exhibition of paintings of landscapes and portraits was inaugurated in the pink room of the Circolo dei Forestieri (Foreigners’ Club) in Bagni di Lucca, in the presence of the mayor Massimo Betti and the newly appointed President of the Pro Loco (tourist promotion association), Valerio Ceccarelli.

The paintings were by René Del Bosco, (born Rinaldo Loiello) from Calabria who now lives near Barga. 10102013 022 Del Bosco has exhibited his works in many Italian cities, most recently in Ponte Buggianese and Barga. His strong point, in my opinion is landscape and his depiction of water, in particular, is masterly. Del Bosco owes a lot to the Macchiaioli School – the Italian equivalent of the French impressionists, and the brush strokes in some of his canvases remind me even of Monet.

There appears to be a different approach in his portraits which have a Hockney-like impassive intensity with the sitters’ eyes fixed on some point in infinity and displaying vulnerability behind a seeming solid front.

This portrait sketch was done in Bagni by the artist using a ball-point pen. 10102013 063 I was particularly intrigued by two canvases which depicted old sailing boats and steamers with, to my eye, a passing reference to Turner’s “fighting Temeraire.” I’m not quite sure if this was the painter’s intention since he wasn’t there to answer my questions.

Some finicky critics may regard these paintings as verging dangerously close to the chocolate box lid and the commercial portrait. I think, however, that the honesty of intention of the painter and his virtuoso technique do set these pictures somewhat apart.

The exhibition is open until the 12th of October so you’d better get in there fast. During my visit there was only the solitary figure of the Pro Loco president sitting rather disconsolately at his desk.

Is it really such an effort to climb up the stairs that lead to the pink room on the first floor of the Circolo di Forestieri? Clearly, disabled access would also need to be addressed and Valerio plans the next exhibition on the ground floor, pending plans to install a lift.

The real problem, however, is the apathy of so many people in facing an art exhibition. A friend in Pisa organizes such exhibitions at supermarket check-out points. Perhaps Bagni di Lucca should rope in Conad and SMA to hang art works – but then the space there is nowhere on so large a scale as Pisa’s Cisanello  Coop.

Art, quite apart from enriching one’s inner life, is a great draw for tourists and visitors to Italy and, at its lowest common denominator, this means bringing in the lolly, of which this country is in somewhat dire need! Anyway, the next exhibition is this one, so don’t miss it!

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