My first meeting with him was overwhelming
The first time I met Elio Marchegiani he was wearing a white smock. He had blue-tinted glasses on and his white beard matched the colour of his long hair. In those days, he was not very young, having already turned eighty-five. “Good morning, Master”. “We are not in school, are we?” “Good morning, Mr. Marchegiani”.
The sicilian painter and sculptor captivated me with his fascinating narration of art history from its origins to the present
“If you don’t call me by my first name, I’ll have to put you back in your car and send you home”. “Hi Elio”. “Hi Carlo”. Then we entered his studio-atelierworkshop-Wunderkammer-library, and there I actually got lost. In a one-hour monologue, Marchegiani retraced art history from the Neolithic Age to the school of Piazza del Popolo, including da Vinci and Rembrandt. He spoke like an overflowing river that sweeps a rubber dinghy downstream, and that dinghy, of course, was me. I simply could not keep pace with him. I plodded along and clingedto what I had learnt at university, to notions that were then materializing in the presence of a protagonist of art history; there was no room for me in that monologue, and even if there had been some, I would have kept quiet and continued observing him.
It was a great pleasure getting lost in his studio-atelier, which i salso a wunderkammer, a workshop and a library
Elio was talking and I was listening. The current carried me to the Academy of Fine Arts in Urbino in 1969. The Academy appointed him first to the chair of “Materials Technology and Laboratory Research” and then to that of “Painting”; later on, he became Dean. Everything was seasoned with a mass of anecdotes that got me drunk and filled me with joy. Around us, there were works of art of many kinds, grammages, parchments, multimedia machines that projected voices and lights, works with locks, plaster and crystal balls.
“Art is an exact science that was lucky enough not to be such”
And then we said goodbye. As two people who have known each other for a long time. It’s been five years since. This year, on September 2, Elio turned ninety. I phoned him up and greeted him with my best birthday wishes. We talked for twenty minutes. He was like a torrent, so full of energy, enthusiasm and projects. And once again, I was like a small dinghy that is carried away by the current. Happy Birthday, Elio. Ten years from now, I will dedicate another text to you.
When Homo sapiens did not bark up the wrong tree yet
What Carlo Vanoni skillfully wrote about me in these pages, that is that I am still very energetic, compels me to add some words about my operative, or rather productive, efficiency, which sometimes makes me work for more than ten hours in a day. I did twenty works in a little more than two months – works I had already finished in my mind a long time ago – searching into a prehistory that has always fascinated me. With irony but also sadness, in my life I have experienced the constant degradation of our planet as well as a certain fossilization of the human mind, which I admonishingly tried to highlight in many of my works. In this context, a good name for a work for a possible exhibition could be “When Homo sapiens did not bark up the wrong tree.” I would like to repeat to those who are reading what I have always argued, that is that Art is an exact Science that was lucky enough not to be such, in my presumption of “doing to make people think”.