A reasoned biography: Paolo Facchinetti

Below written blog post is from the critical text “Paolo Facchinetti, biografia ragionata” by Dalmazio Ambrosini, for the catalog of “Paolo Facchinetti”

"Paolo Facchinetti was born in Nembro, a village situated at the entrance of Valseriana, about ten kilometers away from Bergamo: an area of countryside and industries, typically factories. Strong and quiet people, who cut their coat according to their cloth, but strive nevertheless for something better, also taking advantage of the excellent location of their valley, right on the river Serio, close to the hills and on the edge of the plain. On one side Bergamo and Milan: the present. On the other side the hinterland of the valleys and the mountains, that is to say: the past and traditions. But it's a past which tries to reconnect to the present, constantly modifying and updating itself. So that two vocations coexist: one strongly tied to the solidity of the land and the property, the other open to business and trade as well as to broader relations.

Paolo Facchinetti Italian Artist Photo Youth

A spiralling path

Thinking in this way of Nembro, where Paolo Facchinetti was born in 1953, I realize that he is too a bit like this: valley dweller and citizen, respectful of traditions and eager for novelty, albeit only after careful consideration of what it entails. Indeed his biography moves like a spiral, characterized by a gradual, cautious, progressive and constant openness, which never loses sight of the starting point. His early life rotates around the newsagent's owned by his father. At the end of compulsory education, he would have liked to join the Accademia Carrara, in Bergamo, but in those days it was not yet in vogue, as one had to first ply their trade. So we find Facchinetti higher up in the valley in Clusone, immersed in the atmosphere, the smells and the inks of a print shop. He likes his workplace, but still dreams of Accademia Carrara and becomes intrigued by Cesare Petrogalli and Tomaso Pizio, two painters who come there to print their texts and images, maybe leaving behind something of their sketches for that curious boy. The Accademia Carrara finally arrives, but in small steps. From 1968 to 1971 Facchinetti attended the evening classes of Prof. Mino Marra: drawing, anatomy, nude, pencil and charcoal; the classic academic training. to But in his spare time at home, Facchinetti to cannot resist the temptation to experiment F with oil and canvas. The excitement together with a little worried satisfaction for his first personal exhibition in Nembro, Galleria San Nicola: drawings, Indian inks and oils, combining tradition and Academy. Then the time comes for military service and marriage. For some time he only dedicates a few glances and his thoughts to art; then the progressive restart with oil painting, the exploration of acrylic, the return to oil and an interesting illustrative experience: the cover and the drawings for the book Nembro da salvare published by the local Circolo Culturale A. Gramsci. The die is cast. In his paintings the figure begins to flake off, to fade. He becomes interested in Italian informal art, and develops a passion for the paintings of Emilio Vedova. Meanwhile, his desire to fully dedicate himself to art grows stronger and he starts looking for stable connections in the artistic world. Between 1985 and 1989 he regularly meets with Cesare Benaglia (1932), in dialect 'Siser Bena', "the shaman of Valbrembo", as nicknamed by Domenico Montalto. Carpenter, painter and sculptor, Benaglia is an eclectic mind from Valbrembo (a village situated between the Brembo river and the hills fading away from the upper town of Bergamo), a master of art and life, who at the time directed the local art group Valbrembo 77. Benaglia has an extraordinary relationship with the environment and nature and has a charismatic ability to bring people together. For Paolo Facchinetti this is an opportunity to explore the world of art, styles, materials and techniques, including etching, through long and enriching discussions. With the Group, every Sunday morning, he is in Madonna del Bosco for a full immersion into nature and yet another chance for meeting up and working. This experience influences his paintings: landscapes and atmospheres, fields, hills, snowfalls. On Tuesdays, he is in Valbrembo, in Benaglia's atelier; on Saturdays, he attends nude classes at the art group Valbrembo 77 under the guidance of the sculptor Alessandro Verdi; on Sundays, he takes nature walks with a small group coordinated by Cesare Benaglia. And whenever he has the opportunity, he visits exhibitions and museums, feeling excited and privileged to meet, get an autograph and share a few words with Francis Bacon, in 1990, in Venice, on the occasion of the exhibition at Palazzo Grassi From van Gogh to Picasso, from Kandinsky to Pollock, organized by Thomas Krens together with Lisa Dennison and Germano Celant.

Paolo Facchinetti Italian Artist Portraits

The portrait, an exploration ground

This is a time of enthusiasm, reflection, work and research; art like bread. Facchinetti, like an acrobat, divides dn his commitments between work, family and painting, He is attracted and fascinated by artists like Bacon, Giacometti and Lucian Freud, albeit keeping in the background Vedova's highly gestural informal and the dramatic atmospheres of De Kooning's abstract expressionism. These are important lessons for Facchinetti, who is more and more tempted by abstract art, even if he feels nostalgia for the figurative genre, which keeps coming and going. But every time it comes back, it is a bit less academic and a bit more blurred, because Facchinetti does not intend to represent but rather to interpret, preferably with a lyrical touch. It is no coincidence that he remembers with pleasure the "beautiful exhibition" in Albino, Galleria Ca' Gromasa 1998, titled Liricamente, with accompanying text, in the catalogue, written by Viola Giacometti. Facchinetti has always considered the portrait an essential feature of his artistic style: a sort of territory of for experimenting with increasingly higher levels of creative freedom, delivered with personal touch and conquest innovative spirit, but at the same time never off-the-cuff. He portraits mainly celebrities from the world of music, from Stravinsky to Toscanini, Maria Callas, Willem Mengelberg, the great orchestra conductor from Bergamo, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, the jazzman Gianluigi Trovesi, to cite a few. But, later, also famous leaders from the political world and the civil and human rights milieu. Three years before he had proposed, in Nembro, his Ritratti immaginari (Imaginary portraits); now his imagination meets with real and known people, with the great tradition of portraiture in art history, and with a well controlled, recognizable and even emblematic figuration. Portraits are seen as a metaphor of reality, thought and emotions. He often abandons the whole figure to focus instead on faces only. He is interested in the physical recognizability of the traits, but even more, he is interested in the subjects psychological recognizability, concentrated in their eyes and their glances and then diffused also in their facial traits and their posture. But calling them merely inner portraits would penalize the operational and coloristic side, Facchinetti's constant experimentation with materials, the lightly diluted oil, with some ripples of colour, without totally indulging in the materic. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call them portraits like landscapes, orographic mappings of thought, intelligence, and spirit. Portraits continue and will continue to be a part of Facchinetti's artistic production, such as with the forty portraits which constitute the series of Auto Biografie (Auto Biographies); among these, perhaps remembering Bukowski's set-in-stone judgment: "Fante was my god", the portrait of the writer John Fante, which the AufbauVerlag of Berlin, will soon publish in its calendars: Aufbau Literatur Kalender 2013 and Aufbau Literatur Wochenplaner 2013.

Paolo Facchinetti Italian Artist Art Experimentation

A reasoned experimentation

Paolo Facchinetti's spiral has continued to widen, both geographically and stylistically, nevertheless still keeping an eye on its origins. This indeed stands for humility, application, study and work - qualities which are engrained into the DNA of the people from Bergamo - but also and above all for upholding the tradition, the Academy, the frescoes, the altarpieces, the local painters from the past, the great and restless portraitists such as Giovan Battista Moroni, or Ceresa, Fra' Galgario, Previtali, Ciriani, Cifrondi and Licino, or Giovanni Andrea Carnovali, nicknamed "the Piccio", who worked for many years in Albino (a few kilometers from Nembro) and attended the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo. All of them united by the urge to innovate, whereby novelty means digging deeper into the soul. When Paolo Facchinetti says: "I like the portrait" and in his portraits he merges - through a subtle balance of creativity and rigor - figurative, informal and abstractexpression, he manifests his need to know, to learn more, to get to the bottom of things (of faces, psychologies, typologies) with extreme discipline, nothing more and nothing less, even in the tones, the colour, the pigment. Also with regard to the portrait, Facchinetti matures a well tempered style, but at the same time he experiments with different pictorial gestures and a variety of materials, where, in addition to the classical canvas he decides to use aluminum and wooden panels. And also with the vividness of colours, the spreading of the reds and the blacks, the intersecting of the greys-whites, the violet and the blue strokes, the restrained beams of light of the yellows, the light bounced off and released by the black tar; the chromatic layers, the monochrome coatings, the textures of colours. Paintings like products, like experimental steps, always combining tradition and innovation, classicism and technological experimentation. An increasingly well-balanced curiosity let him pass unscathed even through the realization of the cover of Requiem 2007, the fourth album of Verdena, one of the hardest Italian rock groups, where he portrays the three components of the band with a veil of awareness and doubt running on their faces. A "signic" allure even stronger is found in the series Timbri (Stamps) 2008-2011, with skulls and audacious postures. Here he uses tampons, soaked in black, on wooden boards, with strokes of colour, preferably yellow and red. The use of the tampon as a brush expresses perhaps an open defiance of conventions. From 2004 the oil spatulated, applied on Polaroid photos, returns to the forefront with the series Sequenze (Sequences). The colour of time, memories and emotions seeps through people and places taken from everyday life. "I always try to escape from the cage of style"; where the word style stands for easiness, predictability, triviality and, God forbid, mannerisms. He is restless; his art is movement, experimentation, tension. There is always a frontier ahead of him he is willing to overcome.

Italian Art Abstract by Paolo Facchinetti

Back and forth between escapes and returns

Berlin, the portrait of John Fante for the Aufbau Literatur Kalender and the Aufbau Literatur Wochenplaner, a stage in a journey, nevertheless rooted at the feet of the Orobie Alps. His works are exhibited in Milan, Rovereto, Bologna, Verona, Naples, in Belgium and the Czech Republic. In 2008 he is shortlisted for the Biennial of Drawing at the Museum of West Bohemia in Pilsen (Czech Republic). His formative journey now turns to the north, to the challenges of Germany, and focuses in a sequential and almost methodical way on Gerhard Richter (Dresda 1932), one of the most proactive contemporary artists, working between Cologne and Düsseldorf, the new capitals of the world of art. Richter and the vertigo of the fifteen paintings of the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorists (1988); Richter and his relationship between illusion and reality: that very relationship that interests Paolo Facchinetti more and more, even in his cyclical and continuous returns to the landscapes, to the Lombardian atmosphere, to a world which is changing like never before, but at the same time remains true to its roots. Sunrises, sunsets, twilights, the sun filtering through the fog and then the afternoon, as Montale would say, pale and thoughtful. The thick and materic oil applied on the natural or white aluminum. The past and the present. And meanwhile, as today becomes tomorrow, the Mac surfaces. Not so much for computer or video-art, but as a design tool. Traces for works that, then, return in the hands, the brushes and the various techniques of the artist. Once again, reasoned experimentation. The spiral widens, yet remaining well anchored to its roots."

To learn more about the Italian Artist Paolo Facchinetti, you can read the Story of the Artist. 

To see his profile page and his collection, please visit Paolo Facchinetti's Profile Page.

Paolo Facchinetti Italian Artist Photo Youth2