"Where are heroes born and which landscapes have created the warriors of Greek mythology and the Gods of Olympus"?

Azzinari went to those magical places to paint the "Bay of Ulysses," Ithaca, "The Poseidon Bay" at Cape Sounion, the site where Theseus died on the island of Skyros, "The Mirror of Narcissus" on the island of Delos. In Sicily he painted "The Gorges of Alcantara;" in Calabria "The Gift of the Gods" and "The olive tree – the tree dear to the Goddess Athena;" in Macedonia an homage to Alexander the Great – the "desert in bloom." The Ministry of Culture and Library of Rome organized an event "The Places of Myth" in the halls of the National Library and published the catalog curated by Claudio Strinati. The same exhibition was sponsored by the Municipality of Rimini and housed in the Sale delle Colonne, with an introduction in the catalog by famous journalist, Sergio Zavoli.

The Places of Myth - Luciano De Crescenzo

azzinari_de_crescenzoI have written about the myths of love, war, gods and heroes, You will be wondering where these events happened, which landscapes were the backdrop for these incredible, fascinating, events. Franco Azzinari will guide you into this magical world of myths. Indeed, the ideal thing would be to read one of my books on mythology, lounging in an armchair, gazing at one of Azzinari's beautiful paintings on the wall in front of you. Painting complements reading: you can travel in and beyond time, through history and around the world without a ticket, sitting comfortably at home. And what's more, whenever you want to, without fear of strikes. This is the myth of art, of writing, of painting, of playing music. This is the myth of freedom. The Muses, the hostesses rather, who will accompany you on this trip, are beautiful too. Takeny word for it.

The Places of Myth - Claudio Strinati

azzinari_strinatiAzzinari has travelled all over the world to land on his native country and as he once wrote, comparing himself to Ulysses, Calabria is his Itaca, hence in other words his starting point and his finishing line. In fact the master has wanted to verify a simple truth, one which must be experienced in first person in order to intimately and fully understand it. This truth lies in the interim of what is immediately grasped at a very early age, and what becomes consolidated through time but one cannot exist without the other until we discover that multiplicity and unity are one and the same. Azzinari has re-conquered his Calabria, rediscovering it still the same and yet different, in each part of the globe, up to a certain culminating moment of his life: his journey to Cuba.

Read everything
recorded in a substantial collection of works published in 2001 in a beautiful volume edited by Raffaele De Grada, Miguel Barnet, Sergio Zavoli and Carilda Oliver Labra (including an effective, rather revealing text on the master). In the book we read about beautiful places and reiterative contacts with uncontaminated nature and with the fervour of men and women young and old alike all in syntony with the author. Each new encounter seems to want to describe the artist himself. It has been for him (and could and should be for all of us) an incentive to go back and reconsider what we know and what we love but to which we must return during the course of our existence like the water we drink throughout our lives because our thirst will never be quenched and the joy of drinking returns again and again with the same gratification. And so the master delivers a clear message to he who accompanies him and who will accompany him, and the collection of his works is like a continuous flow which only a physical limitation of the canvas inevitably interrupts and recommences, in a series of different 'episodes'. His approach with the subject matter is all his own, to the point of having suggested to some exegetes the idea of a lyrical naturalism, of a filiation of Azzinari to the great history of realism, but a unique filiation as in fact it refuses the actual existence of realism in painting, without the possibility of connecting the figure of Azzinari to any particular masters of the past, instead Azzinari is characterised by an extremely marked and personal language from the very beginning and now more than ever, in his full maturity. Azzinari's approach is that of the observer wandering within natural spaces crammed with dense luxuriant webs of grass and flowers and as he proceeds with ease and yet entwined within these spaces, he stops continuously to stare at the landscapes of the seasons and of time. There is a mythical, ancestral, fatal component in this way of observing and it lies within the very roots of things, within those elements which constitute the world that surrounds us: air, water, earth and fire. But not intended as symbols of the four temperaments, according to an ancient myth, but as metaphors of a close-up vision immersed within the breath of nature. It is not about, in other words, the elements as they may have been felt by the ancient or by men of the Renaissance, but it is about joyous transpositions of a remote sensitivety within our times and our mentality, yet preserving Azzinari that mythical dimension par excellence that is the impossibility of identifying a precise moment of our everyday lives to then transfer all this onto an immobile level of contemplation. In Azzinari's paintings the air that swirls around a field moves the feathery blades of grass that cover the earth and animates them making them rustle like the splashing of water or the blazing of fire. But none of these factors is purely naturalistic. It is, instead, a visual response to the global sensation which one feels when one takes part in the real life of Nature. It is the simplicity of being alive, together with the amazement of being faced by the deepest of mysteries. A wonderful metaphor by a sensitive writer such as Susanna Tamaro suggested observing Azzinari's paintings and slipping inside as if some magic power could transform mere contemplation into an active presence of the observer within the painting, together with its author. And here emerges that component of a very nearly ancestral peasant culture which brought Giorgio Celli to say in an extremely penetrating text in 1994: "Azzinari has then been witness to, and has created a painting style, that wants to be 'eye-witness' so to speak, to the world's innocence and beauty". What is before our eyes remains intact, and seems to want to confirm Azzinari the uppermost miracle of nature: the true magic of existence and its obvious spontaneity. From these assumptions, the mythical spirit of Azzinari's painting can be traced, along with its evident connection to the culture born in Magna Graecia, and spread throughout the civilized world over the centuries. His Calabria is, above all, today, in the area of Altomonte, this magical place, nourished by an elite civilization, but reserved and separated in the splendid 'Pallotta Tower', which is today the seat of the Azzinari Museum. It is a place where even today one can perceive the presence of ancient Greek heroes, belonging to the past but which have remained latent: Azzinari did not encounter it immediately, in his early youth, but after having passed through similar parallel worlds such as Liguria, a place with a mixture of sweet solitude and memories of bygone days, placed in the unchanging stability of Nature. We seem to grasp, in Azzinari's paintings, the same deep solemnity of Montale's poems when he describes stopping and meditating within those harsh sunny spaces of a Nature both generous but mysterious. And that light, which takes the form of a prevailing destiny likened to that of the myth of Minerva, metaphor of the idea of an alchemic art which gives a deep sense of the real to continuously change it into something other than itself. The traceable myth in the figurative meditation of Azzinari is the myth of our origins, 'Paradeisos', a place where man elects to remain, of true Nature within which even those trophies of fruit, structured with the criteria of Still Nature, intended as a glorious pictorial genre, can find comfortable repose. It is clear that the artist desires to suggest a perception of time which is not that of day to day life. His time and his space are the time and the space of myth, where all has happened and continues to happen. And so the enchanted eye that casts its gaze upon the luxuriant sturdy grass, is also at times lifted, as if in flight, like a navigator or a traveller who roams far and wide in search of "virtute e conoscenza". Thus the sedimented myth in Azzinari's painting is also an extremely modern form of 'de-mything' in the sense of a sincere rendition of the reality of Nature to the simplicity of the contemplation of our existence. Another form of the myth is revealed in Azzinari's painting which is that of a recurring cycle, of the Eternal Return, as expressed by Mircea Eliade, as narrated in ancient stories that combined the idea of time, represented in a straight line towards the infinitive, with the idea of time in a circle which returns within itself and re-proposes the identical. And so possibly, the reference which is closest to being real is the one which places Azzinari's work in its entirety, closer to that great meditation of language intended as mythical complete transposition which nourishes the great French poets from Baudlaire to Mallarmè to Verlaine. Azzinari's idea, in fact, is that Nature is a totally animated being through which the living spirit runs, that it is the ultimate gift offered to man, provided that he is able to see it. The artist becomes one with nature and he becomes simultaneously bigger or smaller. He is like an elf or a gnome, a spirit of the wood, a goblin who can be minute and walk on a blade of grass, or gigantic and dominate a mountain. And so his fantastical universe communicates to the learned as well as the simple, to the child as well as the mature adult, and it spreads an artistic experience which is a sort of great visual introduction to the universe of disseminated myths born in that immense area which is Magna Graecia, relived and refound in each and every part of the world and within its spirit.

Paintings made in Grecia, Calabria e Sicilia