Art & Culture
June 24, 2016
Portraits, beauty and sorrow.
The dream world of Gianfranco Mello
In the studio that once belonged to Giambologna, a modern master creates new art
A true portrait interrogates the soul of the viewer’. While reading this epigraph in Gianfranco Mello’s atelier, we began to perceive a play of reflected glances, a silent complicity that spans at least five centuries. There is an impressive main door at numbers 22 and 24 on the street known as Borgo Pinti in Florence. Beyond the threshold, visitors forget the city and enter a place where time is suspended. The walls tell the story of places transformed into dreams and dreams captured in the colours of a painter’s palette. These are the rooms of the Fondazione Mello Studio d’Arte Le Colonne, residence of artist Gianfranco Mello and once the workshop of Giambologna. The painter, born in Venice but resident in Florence from early childhood, had the occasion to meet the best-known artists of the 1900s from early on.
True to his art and indifferent to commercial ploys, Mello chose an intimate and silent place for his atelier without renouncing the opportunity to live and work in the heart of the city. Inside his studio, the artist shows hundreds of very large canvases. A particular technique of pigments and oil depicts Florence from secret viewpoints, which the artist is very fond of. The view of the studio at Pian dei Giullari or the view from the terrace of Borgo Pinti depict Brunelleschi’s eternal dome with the same simplicity as wild flowers. The colours of nature and of the city blur into a dream-like vision, perhaps the same as that captured in childhood memories of Venice seen through the fog.
The large paintings also reveal the authentic colours and light of Maremma. One of the distinguishing traits of the maestro is his Impressionist calling to portray the light and thus his need to paint outdoors, in the open. Mello’s favourite subjects also include nudes, portraits and self-portraits (the latest of which was recently requested by an important Italian art dealer). Beside the depth of a glance, the vitality of a nude body and the vibrant chromatic force of nature on the monumental canvases, in Mello’s paintings there is often a skull as a warning of death. Among the canvases that fill the ancient foundry of Giambologna, we discovered the nude of a young woman standing in front of a view of the city. Beside her, however, there is again a skull. The artist explained that the token of death was added to the composition of the painting because it was in the process of being created on the very day of the attack on the Twin Towers of New York. The painter also expressed his sensitivity in his homage to another dramatically unforgettable day in our history, the latest terrorist attack in Brussels, in this case through the intensely sorrowful red in the still life of a vase of azaleas.
Piero della Francesca and Domenico Veneziano are the points of reference for the figurative work of Gianfranco Mello, compatible with his Venetian and Tuscan soul. Next to the great, maestro Mello has taken his inspiration from the places where he taught, above all Impruneta (where he had a house) and its surroundings. No less important, the artist’s father and master of scenography was another important point of reference, from whom it seemly likely that he inherited the preference for large dimensions.
The Artist held his first exhibition….