I can tell you exactly what inspired me to do the paintings I am working on now. Between December 2019 and February 2020, I was lucky enough to take three trips to Europe: Venice in December (I had never visited it in that month), Paris in January (to see the Francis Bacon show at Centre Pompidou) and Venice in February for the Carnival. Each of these trips gave me much needed guidance, renewed my creativity and inspired me to revisit and reinterpret what I refer to as my 'number paintings'.
Trip no. 1 - Venice, December 2019
Not having a set program and finding many places closed due to a recent devastating acqua alta, my wife and I wondered aimlessly through the city. It was by pure chance that we passed by houses that had ended up in my 'number paintings'. These paintings consist of masked figures and the architectural detail and the matching street number found at that address. Tourists usually are impressed by a city surrounded by water and walkable through its innumerable small bridges but are they aware of all the beautiful details on palazzi and even on modest abodes? I had found my new direction or an old direction into the present. I wanted to do more 'number paintings' and continue to pay homage to a city that never stops amazing me.
If you visit Venice, you will still find these architectural details except for this one (see above). It was put up during Carnival 2006 and then it was removed. I found out later on that this house, number 1737, had been used as a mask making shop; hence, the ironic addition of the mask to the sculpted head.
Trip no. 2 - Paris, January 2020
If the Venice Carnival up to then had been my major source of inspiration, I had found another muse. Bursting at the seams with creativity and inspiration after seeing the Francis Bacon show at Centre Pompidou and catching the Magical Paintings art show at the Picasso Museum, I looked at Paris in a different light. Walking around the city, I found addresses with other architectural details that I wanted to turn into my 'number paintings’. I saw these Parisian paintings inhabited by my Venetian masked figures.
Trip no. 3 - Venice, Carnevale 2020
If the first trip to Venice in December 2019 had sparkled my interest in doing more 'number paintings', the Francis Bacon show at Centre Pompidou in January 2020 had stimulated me beyond expectation. And now it was time to find inspiration in the Venice Carnival 2020 for my new 'number paintings'. The problem was that I knew exactly what I was looking for and no guarantee that I would find it. But I did.
Both Francis Bacon and Picasso used the arrow in their work. In this painting the arrow indicates that at number 4468 - 4472 in Venice, there is a plaque on the pavement which gives a historical context to this address. The plaque reads: " Here lived Bartolomeo Meloni Born in 1900 Arrested as "politico" 4.10.1943 Deported Dachau Dead 9.7.1944
Since 1993, I have attended the Venice Carnival every year to get renewed inspiration but also because one can never take for granted that what is today, will be the same tomorrow. Well, this year the last two days of Carnevale were cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy. The last masked figure I saw in Piazza San Marco was holding a skull. Little did I know how relentlessnessly appropriate that image would be.