- the virtual citizenship of Venice
Luigi Tito (1907-1991)
In the occasion of Luigi Tito’s birth centennial Mart in Rovereto celebrates such a great Venetian painter

Enormous silhouettes: stretched and curled female nudes, so violent and real. Bodies as faces, the color of flesh and its the decay. Luigi Tito (1907-1991) is a painter of the human body; he takes its graphic expression to the limits. His gestures are instinctive, unmediated, close to reality. Roberto Tassi says of him: “ he paints in silence; he doesn’t exhibit his work, he doesn’t take part in Biennales, he doesn’t care for the latest trends, he doesn’t work on his catalogues; he just works slowly on small canvasses, choosing shades, settling colors, short brush strokes always carefully pondered”. An exhibition at the Mart in Rovereto celebrates him until January 13th with a selection of sixty of his works. Throughout his career Tito always kept in mind the old Masters (Tintoretto, Goya, Rembrandt, Velasquez) but he was also able to communicate with his contemporaries. He knew Mario De Luigi, Arturo Martini, Carlo Scarpa and pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. He engaged in many heated discussion about “shade” in painting “while coming back home in the middle of the night with Mario De Luigi and other friends painters. Somebody speaks of a “local” shade, this is very superficial” (extract taken from his unpublished diaries).

Gigetto, as everybody calls him, lived with Anny, his wife, and their four children in the marvelous and labyrinth-like liberty mansion on the Fondamenta near Campo San Barnaba. His studio on the ground floor has really high walls and once belonged to his father Ettore, famous painter of the 19th century; Today it belongs to Tito’s son Eppe, sculptor and musician.

Gigetto is an emotional artist, full of enthusiasm and disdain for the world around him. He turns sentiment into painting, you can tell. His portraits are communicative, outlined by dense brushstrokes never lumpy. The faint vanishing portrait of Avogadro countess is a memento mori as “the old woman” by Giorgione.

He warns his students at the Academia about the dangers of mindless longing for innovation in painting; he was used to quote Gauguin ironically “for fifty years gardeners struggled to grow double dahlias, then one day they came back to regular ones”. He is not against innovations at all though, he’s extremely attentive to what happens around him: “they say I go against the mainstream. It’s not true. I do what I’m good at. I never painted an abstract picture not because I don’t like abstract pictures (there is no art without abstraction) but because I follow what is more suitable for me”. He has a rare quality for a painter: the bigheartedness used to judge his colleagues. In 1949 on the occasion of Sironi’s exhibition in Milan he’s extremely enthusiastic: “ What a painter! What a man! His peripheries! This is a truly “new” word”. He’s also surprised and brightened up by new encounters: “ at the Cini’s I met the San Francis of modern painting: Giorgio Morandi. […] While I listen to his words I am more and more convinced that we all come from a distant place, we are all imitators of the ‘olden time’”. He speaks admired of a portrait by Antonio Mancini “ he masters such a painting ‘magma’ similar to Rembrandt’s”, as well as of “Rotonda di Palmieri” by Fattori “such a masterpiece that can be so modern while almost belonging to Giotto’s tradition”. By the end of his life, when asked what painting was he would answer in a elusive manner, as if to protect a secret : “I don’t know yet what to answer, or maybe I don’t want to answer. I’ll just let the others speak”.

[ Publication date: 10 January 2008 ]

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