BLACK and WHITE


PHOTOGRAPHS OF ORESTE ALBERTINI’S PAINTINGS

by Rosanna Albertini

1095 B-N

I am in this painting, the little girl sitting in the foreground, 1949?

We say BLACK: as if the night was an impenetrable bucket of ink and a pupil was a colorless spot in the middle of the iris instead of a hole, calling for light to come, hello mister brain, would you please activate your colors.

WHITE, instead, is an imaginary brush canceling lines, mess, imperfection, the same as snowflakes in New York sticking on the sidewalk. Piles of garbage bags become hills of the city covered with a white mantle.

I was torn by a dilemma for a few days: some of my grandfather Oreste Albertini’s paintings, reproduced in black & white photos, seemed to me utterly beautiful, not less than his oil landscape paintings that I see every day before my eyes. But these are photos of old paintings that I had never seen. Regression, toward a sentimental confusion? And what about the myth of the original art piece, usually treated as a religious icon? Am I committing an abstract sacrilege? What’s more important: the object or the intangible aura spread by the painted object, in which the art secret is held like a hostage. A high price in tension is required to set it free.

 

1078 B-N

1103 B-N

 

Oreste’s paintings in my house are not decorative complements of my daily life, they are fragments of my own life magically brought together in one canvas or on a small wooden surface. The very moment of my birth is posed on a 15 x 11 inch painted tablet. The painter’s feelings are there, in the silent vibration of light over a day of labor, soaking grass and mountains with faltering strokes.

In the white shelter of our skull, through the gray matter of the brain, an almost unthinkable conversation between light and our neuronal trees unfolds flowers of color, sentiments, sounds.

Colors, sounds, sentiments, are different for each person. They are the body and soul of the arts. That’s why ideas, maybe, are the most conventional and convenient food of our lives, from mouth to mouth, resting on pages, never definitive. They only sound like the daughters of certainty.

1107 B-N

Wanting company, I looked for original, clear minds. I found Giuseppe Panza di Biumo* and his memories as a collector, Mark Rothko,** Fernando Pessoa*** and Alberto Albertini, Oreste’s son.

Fernando Pessoa  “Life for us is what we conceive in it. For the peasant, whose little farm is everything, that empire is a little farm. … In point of fact, we possess nothing more than our own sensations; within them, therefore, and not within what they see, we just find the reality of our lives.”

Mark Rothko  “…making close the remote in order to bring it into the order of my human & intimate understanding. …”
Here, says the painter, is what my world is composed: a quantity of sky, a quantity of earth, and a quantity of animation. And he lays them out on the table for me to observe at the same distance, to hold in the palm of my understanding without editorship – and these are eyes or a head – that are the desires and fears and aspirations of animated spirits.”
I am interested only in expressing basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom or so on – and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate those basic human emotions. … The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!”

1094 B-N

Giuseppe Panza “The relationship between idea and form, so difficult, almost impossible to define, is the secret and mystery of art, its obscure and powerful core; its force that overcomes the limits of reason and connects to the unknown, to the mystery of life. As if one would touch something impossible to imagine, arising from the springs of life. Not an intellectual operation, rather a phenomenon that precedes and goes beyond us as human beings.”

1063 B-N

Alberto Albertini “My presence next to him as a child, while he painted, fills my vision. I often went out with him and watched him while painting outdoor, and more than anything else I absorbed the charm around him. I used to curl up by a hill’s shoulder to protect myself from the wind. In March the sun is barely warm. I could perceive the same atmosphere he was painting. He was able to transfer his perceptions into the painting; that’s what his paintings give me back, those immersive moments.”     (  https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/the-socialist-painter/ )

My dilemma remains, along with my love for the black & white ghosts.

Oreste-ideas002

 

Oreste Albertini, Notebook

Alberto Albertini, A Socialist Painter, in this blog

Giuseppe Panza, Ricordi di un collezionista, Milano, Jaca Book Spa, 2006

Mark Rothko, Writings on Art, Yale University, 2006

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, Boston, Exact Change, 1998

 

PER FRANCESCO E DIEGO:

IN BIANCO E NERO

PHOTOGRAFIE DEI QUADRI DI ORESTE ALBERTINI

NERO: lo dico ed è come se la notte fosse un secchio di inchiostro impenetrabile e la pupilla una macchia senza colore nel mezzo dell’iride invece che un buco, un buco che chiede alla luce di entrare, signor cervello buondì, mi faccia il piacere di accendere i colori.

BIANCO, invece, è un pennello immaginario che cancella segni, tracce di caos, imperfezioni, come fanno i fiocchi di neve sui marciapiedi di New York. Sacchi della spazzatura ammucchiati diventano colli urbani coperti da una mantello bianco.

Un dilemma mi ha turbato per qualche giorno: alcuni quadri del mio nonno pittore Oreste Albertini mi sono parsi bellissimi nella versione fotografica in bianco e nero, non meno dei quadri a olio che ho sotto gli occhi tutti i giorni. Eppure sono fotografie di vecchi quadri che non ho mai visto. Stavo regredendo verso una confusione sentimentale? Cosa ne faccio dell’opera d’ arte originale come mito, che di solito si tratta come un’icona religiosa? Sto commettendo un sacrilegio astratto? Che cos’è che importa di più: l’oggetto di per sé oppure l’aura che emana dall’oggetto dipinto, che quasi tiene in ostaggio il segreto dell’arte. Per liberarlo, ci vuole una tensione che non ha prezzo.

I quadri di Oreste nella mia casa non accompagnano la mia vita quotidiana come decorazioni. Sono momenti e luoghi della mia vita, dei frammenti che rivivono come per magia su una tela oppure su una tavoletta dipinta. Il momento esatto della mia nascita si è posato su una tavoletta di 38 x 29 centimetri. Sensazioni dell’artista, luce che vibra in silenzio sulle fatiche di un giorno, mentre i campi e le montagne prendono forma impregnate da un pennello esitante.

Nel ricettacolo bianco del cranio, attraverso la materia grigia del cervello, una conversazione inconcepibile fra la luce e gli alberi neurali sviluppa una fioritura di colore, suoni e sentimenti.

Suoni, colori e sentimenti sono diversi persona per persona. Sono corpo e anima delle arti.
Forse per questo le idee sono il cibo più convenzionale e opportuno, di bocca in bocca, qualche sosta sulla carta, niente di definitivo. Figlie della certezza solo in apparenza.

In cerca di compagnia, ho trovato alcune voci oneste e originali: Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, un collezionista con le sue memorie, Mark Rothko, Fernando Pessoa e Alberto Albertini, figlio di Oreste.

Fernando Pessoa “La nostra vita è solo quello che riusciamo a vederci dentro. La fattoria è tutto per il contadino, l’impero è una piccola casa. … E’ un dato di fatto che non possediamo niente più delle sensazioni; è al loro interno, non in quello che vediamo, che siamo in grado di trovare la nostra vita come è in realtà.”

Mark Rothko “… rendendo vicine le cose distanti per portarle nell’ordine della comprensione umana & intima …”
“Ecco, dice il pittore, i mio mondo è composto di: un po’ di cielo, un po’ di terra, e un po’ di animazione. E dispone le dosi sul tavolo per farmele osservare alla stessa distanza, perché le tenga nel palmo della mano senza alterazioni – questi sono occhi o una testa – che sono i desideri, o le paure, e le aspirazioni degli spiriti animati.”
“La sola cosa che mi interessa è esprimere emozioni umane fondamentali – tragedia, estasi, rovina o cosi via – e il fatto che un sacco di gente si emoziona e piange davanti ai miei dipinti mostra che ho trasmesso emozioni fondamentali. … Chi piange davanti ai miei quadri sta vivendo la stessa esperienza religiosa che avevo avuto quando li ho dipinti. E se tu, come dici, sei toccato solo dalle relazioni fra i colori, ti perdi l’essenziale!”

Giuseppe Panza “Un riesame del rapporto tra l’idea e la forma, rapporto difficile da definire, anzi impossibile da definire, è il segreto e il mistero dell’arte, è il suo nucleo oscuro e potente, è la sua grande forza superiore ai limiti della ragione, è il punto di connessione con l’ignoto, con il mistero della vita e di tutte le cose. E’ come toccare qualche cosa che non si può neppure immaginare, e come arrivare alle sorgenti della vita. Non è un’operazione intellettuale, è un fenomeno che precede il nostro essere e lo supera.”

Alberto Albertini “La capacità di dare corpo, consistenza, materalità ai volumi dei paesaggi mi pare straordinaria. Io tutto questo lo vedo in relazione alle mie presenze, da bambino, quando dipingeva. Spesso uscivo con lui e lo vedevo dipingere ma soprattutto assorbivo l’incanto che vi aleggiava. Mi raggomitolavo contro una riva, al riparo del vento, al sole tiepido di marzo. Percepivo l’atmosfera che lui dipingeva. Penso che avesse le stesse percezioni e queste riusciva a trasferire nel dipinto, questo mi rievocano i quadri, l’atmosfera, quei momenti.”

WHEN I WAS A BOY

Los Angeles artist John Eden, his grandfather W.M. Burgess of Gilmore, Oklahoma, and fathers and mothers and children before them and after them.

by Rosanna Albertini

Let’s go backwards, “from the adult to the open-eared attentiveness of the child: expanses, solitude; being led; letting reason grow out of things and into man [and women]; a more universal, more conciliatory, but less precise mode of thought.” (Robert Musil, 1922)

Johnny on poarch

Johnny on The Porch

As we grow up, the child never disappears although we couldn’t say where it is; inside the body, or looking at us from afar?

JOHN EDEN, "Hell's bells" 2006. Bronze bells on lacquered aluminum 7.5" x 54" x 8"

JOHN EDEN, “Hell’s Bells” 2006   Bronze bells on lacquered aluminum   7.5″ x 54″ x 8″ Courtesy of the artist.

Johnny looks at John Eden working in his studio from a photograph that was shot by grandmother, who is the shadow on the left. He doesn’t seem comfortable, nor is he aware he is looking toward the future. “What are those forms he is making?” – Johnny wonders, “so perfectly shaped and covered with a skin of color that keeps eating images of passers by as if hungry for living. They are reflexions, sure, but how could I know what’s happening inside those forms? Likely, the same as in human bodies, what’s contained by the skin is a surprise, a gush of blood scares me. Is art alive? I want to be sure that John is always Johnny. In a sense, I’m him.”

Johnny’s physical existence blocked in his image won’t ever be replicated: his corpus is what we see and nothing beyond: but his nature guided his limbs and neurons into an adult life, and genealogical history, instead of lingering  near him in fading images printed on paper, migrated into John Eden’s art: forms charged with meaning, quality and feeling: “Embodiment is the central effort in art, the way it gets made, very much something out of nothing. It’s impossible to express a feeling without a form. It couldn’t be said or seen.” Donald Judd 1983. Luminous surfaces are calls for thinking, reflections bring my perception close to the artist’s, become evocations. Some of his sculptures introduce into our time simplified forms of irons, and a washboard on which mothers and grandmothers in the 20’s and 30’s consumed their fingers by hand washing: they are votive objects to honor incommunicable lives erased by history but not in our memory or feelings, temporary as they are.

WillPBurgessTouchedupCroppedW.M. Burgess (John Eden’s grandfather): I was given away just as one would give a dog away. I was taken by the Indians to Talihina [Indian Territory, present day Oklahoma].  They were full-blood Choctaw. We had good feather beds and lived very comfortably. … I was very anxious to learn the white man’s ways and when I got to be 18, I worked for a man and earned $1. With this money, I got all the schooling I ever got. I attended the sessions at Postoak Grove school for 20 days. I learned to read myself.

Oreste Albertini (my own grandfather) did worse: he went to school only one day, and decided he was going to learn to read and write by himself. Which he did, and became a painter.

Rosanna Albertini: I was myself given away at age 10, to blue-blood aristocratic ladies in Milan, who changed the fearless countryside savage I was into a refined young lady. In 1955 the post war conditions of life in Italy were not very far from the American Great Depression for those who were poor and jobless. My bed wasn’t as comfortable as the Indian bed.

William and Annie Burgess, my mother's parents just before he died. Early to mid '30s

John Eden: William and Annie Burgess, my mother’s parents just before he died. Early to mid ’30s.

John Eden: Flora Mae Burgess-Eden, my mother, was born in Eastern Oklahoma, into a sharecropper’s family of seven children. Her father was raised speaking Choctaw and only learned English later as a second language. My mother was just shy of twelve when he died in 1934 from blood poisoning, leaving his widow and their seven kids to fend for themselves during the height of the Great Depression. One year later, FDR’s “New Deal” administration decided that ‘excess’ livestock across the nation should be destroyed for whatever political reason, ‘they came out and shot the cow’ leaving my grandmother’s family without their only source of milk. This was the major contributing factor for their ‘Okie Diaspora’  journey to California.

1934 around the world: The night of long knives in Germany -June 30-  officially began Hitler’s attempt at the massacre of European democracies. In China the Red Army marched for 370 days to rewrite in name of Mao thousands years of history. Several dictators surfaced in South and Central America, Stalin was already dominating in Russia. In the U.S. Albert Einstein visited the White House, Bonny and Clyde were killed in Louisiana, and Cole Porter’s Anything Goes premiered in New York City, November 21. It was the worst year of the Great Depression and the world economy hit rock bottom.

Rosa Maserati Albertini (my grandmother): I was fourteen when they put me on a big boat, all by myself, to cross the Atlantic and go to Pittsburgh to work in my uncle’s drugstore. One year after I was sent back to Italy because business wasn’t good, worked in a factory’s night shift, the four fingers of my right hands were completely cut off in a factory accident.

These are not really ‘facts.’ They form a texture of family mythologies, in a mysterious way circulate in our blood, they are our humus. Why do I still hold my right hand with the left, as if I were covering the missing fingers? If young readers are patient enough to read these stories, they should know they all had positive endings, despite (or because?) of hard beginnings. Our present time, so strongly based on fulfillment, seems to rush away from the personal face of our days.

John Eden’s art will not change the general trend, but gives to us silent bodies so filled with feelings that emotions spill from them and spread in the room, and become matches turning other emotions on, from our own personal stories. Try to see the sculptures for real, images are not them.

JOHN EDEN, Stupa AKA Larry's Bell, 2008-2009 Heavy chromed solid aluminum rod 12" x 12"

JOHN EDEN, Stupa AKA Larry’s Bell, 2008-2009  Heavy chromed solid aluminum rod   12″ x 12″ Courtesy of the artist.

JOHN EDEN, Flora Mae's Magic Circles, 2010-2011 High-polish solid brass 24" x 12.5" x 1.5"

JOHN EDEN, Flora Mae’s Magic Circles, 2010-2011
High-polish solid brass 24″ x 12.5″ x 1.5″ Courtesy of the artist

JAMES AGEE, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1934:

“All that each person is, and experiences, and shall never experience, in body and in mind, all these things are differing expressions of himself and of one root, and are identical: and not one of these things nor one of these persons is ever quite to be duplicated, nor replaced, nor has it even quite had precedent: but each is a new and incommunicable tender life, wounded in every breath, and almost as hardly killed as easily wounded: sustaining for while, without defense, the enormous assault of the universe:

A man and a woman are drawn together upon a bed and there is a child and there are children:

First they are mouths, then they become auxiliary instruments of labor: later they are drawn away, and become the fathers and mothers of children, who shall become the fathers and mothers of children:

This has been happening for a long while: its beginning was before stars:

It will continue for a long while: no one knows when it will end:”

Post scriptum:

Sometimes when a peasant moves with the plough and the oxen
Over the broad surface of the field,
It is as if the vault of the sky might take

Up into itself the peasant, the plough, and the oxen.

Animals lead silence through the world of man.
The cattle: the broad surface of their backs…
It is as if they were carrying silence.

Two cows in a field moving with a man beside them:
It is as if the man were pouring down silence
From the backs of the animals on to the fields.

MAX PICARD, The World of Silence, 1948 (in Annie Dillard Mornings Like This, found poems, 1995).

Besano 1939 plow002

1065 foto eseguite da OA

Besano, Italy, in the 30’s – Two photos by Oreste Albertini

Post post scriptum: The text of this post was inspired by the many days spent reading Orham Pamuk’s novel A Strangeness in My Mind, 2015

LIFE AS IT IS

according to GREG EDWARDS, painter

IN A SKETCHBOOK, A STROKE OF BEAUTY IN THE IRON AGE

By Rosanna Albertini

Artist Greg Edwards has driven and drives most of his urban life in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He paints and draws, draws and drives. He paints abstract actions on large canvases in his studio. His body, big and tall, towers over my caucasian, limited size. He needs a big car. Like most artists, he must work in order to survive. Greg is a limousine driver. The first year I moved to Los Angeles, about twenty five years ago, he showed me his paintings in an exhibition hosted by a shopping center in Crenshaw. He was proud to bring me among his people, the African American community in Los Angeles. I ate my first gumbo. I felt ‘white.’ To me, white and European, it was only a deeper immersion in a foreign world, no more surprising than other Korean, Japanese, or Mexican communities in Los Angeles. So many street names sounding perfectly Italian, with effort I had to tell myself they were Spanish, made me feel at home.

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing, bac814, ink on paper, 12" high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist


GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing:On The Razor In Paris” ink on paper, 12″h x 9″ w
Courtesy of the artist

I think I decided that day I would never considered Greg Edwards a ‘black’ artist, just a very interesting artist. Time showed me I was wrong. It took years to learn an American history that for most Italians was a fantasy around Uncle Tom and cotton fields. Gone with the wind and no more. Our imagination was stuck in the Eurocentric confidence that we knew almost everything, which is worse than having our thoughts blocked by their own limits. Imagination is the key to what we do not know.

Greg’s art has become to me as important as his friendship. Many obstacles we had to overcome to built a reciprocal trust through personal wounds and stories of pain and separation, and stories of daily violence in the U.S. despite new written rules and equalized civil rights. It’s the IRON AGE: humans must work for survival, they can’t contain their passions, nor regulate the amount of pain they suffer or inflict. They kill, place explosive belts around their waist, lie and betray their families. Hesiod had seen it coming six century before Christ appeared. Terrorism and wars wear iron shoes. I can’t write a new post pretending the massacre in Paris did not happen. Not to mention others in Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, India, Iraq, Palestinian territories and in the U.S., only some among many.

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing, 818, ink on paper, 12" high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist


GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing: “The Purchase Of Sky And Forest” ink on paper, 12″ h x 9″ w
Courtesy of the artis

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing bac821, ink on paper, 12"high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing: “Visionary Roadmaster At Home” ink on paper, 12″h  x  9″ w
Courtesy of the artist

The paintings made by my grandfather Oreste, and the war stories recently written for this blog by his son Alberto, happened in a worse time of bombs, starvation, and dedicated fascists, practicing torture on their human companions if they believed they had different ideas about civility. Yet grandfather kept painting, and his mountains, his lakes were free from the surrounding violence. They emanate hope.

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Shetchbook drawing, bac824, ink on paper, 12"high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Shetchbook Drawing: “The Spirit Of Monk’s Girlfriend” ink on paper, 12″h  x  9″w
Courtesy of the artist

I feel the same in front of Greg Edwards’ drawings: beauty is held by his big hands in a warm human cave among the lines that life has written on his palms. He drives, he has to wait for indefinite time. There, in a buffer space before the necessary adaptation to somebody else’s needs, he opens his notebook and lets his fingers to put images down, shadows of things seen hovering on his mind, already light. He draws them as presents of the moment, as they take place in the thickness of time: textures of feelings as if art allowed him to collect them from the daily confusion and lie them on a paper floor, half dream, half geometry, decoration as well as vanishing wishes more than real in his mind.

Beautiful things

like a mouse, like

a red slipper, like

a star, a geranium,

a cat’s tongue or ―

thought, thought

that is a leaf, a

pebble, an old man

out of a story by

Pushkin       .

Ah!

rotten beams tumbling,

.       an old bottle

mauled

from: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS – Paterson, 1946

ORESTE ALBERTINI

ORESTE ALBERTINI, Primavera (Springtime) 1946 

Passage of Age at the End of World War II

ALBERTO ALBERTINI from MILANO

From childhood to adolescence, the micro-history of a boy (my uncle Alberto) inside the big history of a conflict that changed everyone’s lives. Now in his late eighties, Alberto goes back to his memories hoping to reshape untold stories, feeding the natural desire of expanding our sense of existence. The place is an Italian village — Besano — overlooking lake Lugano. Italian eyes and windows darkened by the conflict gazing across the lake toward neutral Switzerland where lights were not turned off. His family is my family before I came into the world, in 1945. An artist family. Oreste’s paintings (my grandfather) gave to our lives a flavor of turpentine and oil colors, and the odd strength of dreams in the after war fight for survival. Not long ago. (R.A.)

THERE ARE A GREAT MANY PEOPLE ALWAYS LIVING WHO ARE MIXED UP WITH ANYTHING AND THAT IS KNOWN AS EVENTS. (Gertrude Stein)

invwerno-sel-2a

May 23, 2008 3:30:30 PM       Can we still call it time? Not the weather, of course. What’s time? Our events go through it; and although accurate instruments measure the bits, it looks or is ungraspable, flexible, slippery to me. Perhaps we introduce events into the memory as we do with data in a computer, but the more they are engraved in us, or sorrowful, the bigger is the space that we make for them, so when we go over our past again, in those places whose events have deeply excavated our interior, our reading extends along with the image of the past time. 1940-1945. My adolescence, from thirteen to eighteen. A whole life in a few years because from childhood one moves to maturity, and becomes an adult. Five endless years, irreplaceable, enchanting and painfully consuming. Desires, hopes, clear sunsets, the sky swept by the wind in March, snow, cold, the partisans on the mountains, frozen soldiers in Russia, deported people. The war seemed never ending. But really, it was only our expanded life! Now that the Iraq war has entered the sixth year [2008], we didn’t even realize it, those six years disappeared for us, but what about people in Iraq? The years must have been endless for them, no hopes either. When older people from my village recalled facts that had happened ten or twenty years before, they seemed an eternity ago to me. And now that I can go back much further with my own memories, such eternity isn’t there anymore!

My generation grew up through fearful stories. Stories of living dead, witches, graveyard’s skeletons. That’s why I was scared of the dark and of the night, out of the house. I was seven-eight years old when “the little grandma” passed away. They showed her to me lying on the bed wearing a black dress, her body covered with a white transparent veil and surrounded by four lit candles at the corners of the bed. I was shocked. For years I was scared walking by that door in the night time. Such a deep interior perturbation — I believe— might have been the origin of a similarly deep religious crisis. I had become absolutely and deeply religious. There was maybe also another reason: I had fall in love with the sister of a school friend. Her blond, long hair were braided. Although she was five years older than I was, I was eight she was thirteen, I was convinced it was not an obstacle. On the pretext I was visiting her brother I glued myself to her so much that, because she was God-fearing, to be able to follow her I went to church morning and afternoon. The consequence was a disquieting fact. Taken by fervor, I started to follow processions, and one time I walked bearing a very heavy crucifix. The wood was heavy on my belly. My long pants, moreover, had become small and tight. At the time there was a cut in the front of the underpants, which was covered by pants! It was my clear sensation, instead, that my weeny was also out of my pants and everyone, since I was at the head of the procession, could see me in such embarrassing situation. I was not able to lower my hands to check it out for they were holding the crucifix, even less to look down. I went through an endless time of panic, until in the end I could reassure myself. That’s the limit that determined, later, a turning point.

6415-ALBERTO

espansa 002

espansa-001

autore sel-11

autore-sel-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alberto Kurosawa style

 

liliana001 copy

Per Francesco e Diego

Dall’infanzia all’adolescenza, la microstoria di una ragazzo (lo zio Alberto) nella grande storia di un conflitto che ha cambiato la vita di tutti. Avvicinandosi ai novant’anni, Alberto ripercorre le sue memorie sperando di dar forma a storie mai dette,  di colmare il desiderio naturale di espandere il senso dell’esistenza. Il posto è un paesino italiano — Besano — con  vista sul lago di Lugano. Occhi italiani e finestre oscurati dal conflitto contemplano la Svizzera neutrale dall’altra parte del lago, dove le luci sono sempre accese. La sua famiglia è la mia famiglia prima che venissi al mondo, nel 1945. La famiglia di un artista. I quadri di Oreste (il mio nonno, padre di Alberto) hanno imbevuto le nostre vite con gli odori della trementina e dei colori a olio; forse ci hanno dato la strana forza dei sogni nello sforzo per sopravvivere del dopoguerra. Non molto tempo fa. (R.A.)

Si può ancora dire tempo? Non quello atmosferico, s’intende. Che cos’è il tempo, quello che noi attraversiamo con i nostri eventi e mentre lo scadenziamo con degli strumenti di precisione esso ci pare, o è, inafferrabile, elastico, sdrucciolevole. Forse come in una memoria di computer si possono inserire dati, noi nella nostra memoria inseriamo eventi, e quanto più sono incisivi o dolenti, per noi, più gli riserviamo spazio, così che, quando ripercorriamo il passato, là dove gli avvenimenti hanno scavato profondamente nel nostro intimo, la lettura si prolunga e così anche la nostra immagine del tempo passato. Cinque anni durò la nostra guerra, 1940-1945. la mia adolescenza, dai tredici ai diciotto anni, il concentrato della vita perché dall’infanzia passi alla maturità, diventi adulto. Cinque anni interminabili, irripetibili, affascinanti e struggenti. I desideri, le speranze, i tramonti limpidi, il cielo terso dal vento di marzo, la neve, il freddo, i partigiani sulle montagne, i militari congelati in Russia, i deportati. La guerra sembrava non finire mai. In realtà era la vita espansa! Ora che la guerra in Iraq è entrata nel sesto anno, [2008] neppure ce ne siamo accorti, questi sei anni sono volati, per noi, ma per gli iracheni? Per loro devono essere interminabili e non hanno nemmeno le speranze. E quando i nostri vecchi rievocavano fatti risalenti a dieci o venti anni prima, a noi sembravano eternità. Invece ora che io posso andare indietro con le memorie molto di più, questa eternità non c’è più!

La mia generazione è cresciuta a storie di paura. Di morti viventi, di streghe, di scheletri al cimitero. Questo faceva si che avessi paura del buio e della notte, fuori. Avevo setto-otto anni quando morì la “nonna” e me la fecero vedere stesa sul letto vestita di nero coperta da un velo trasparente bianco e quattro candele accese agli angoli del letto. Lo shock fu forte. Per anni ebbi paura a passare davanti a quella porta di notte. Questo profondo sconvolgimento interiore credo sia stato la causa di una altrettanto profonda crisi mistica. Ero diventato assolutamente e profondamente religioso. Però forse c’era anche un altro motivo. Mi ero innamorato della sorella di un mio compagno di scuola. Aveva lunghe trecce bionde e cinque anni più di me, io otto e lei tredici, ma ero convinto che questo non fosse un ostacolo. Con la scusa di andare dal fratello mi incollavo a lei e, siccome era timorata di dio, io, per seguirla andavo in chiesa la mattina e il pomeriggio. Ne seguì un fatto inquietante. Nel mio fervore, seguivo anche le processioni e in un’occasione portai anche un pesante crocifisso. Questo mi pesava sulla pancia e per giunta portavo dei calzoni lunghi che erano diventati stretti. Allora si usavano le mutande con un taglio davanti, però sopra c’erano i calzoni! Invece la mia netta sensazione era che mi fosse uscito il pisellino anche dai calzoni e che tutti, ero intesta alla processione, mi vedessero in questa imbarazzante situazione. Io non potevo allungare la mani per controllare perché tenevo il crocifisso, né tanto meno abbassare lo sguardo per vedere. Ho passato un interminabile tempo di panico, finché poi ho potuto rassicurarmi. Questo è stato il limite che ha poi segnato la svolta.

inverno 010