First published: Fall 2014
While looking on Flickr.com, I came across photographs of a self-taught Tuscanian sculptor who signed his works “PM”. There in the photographs was a genial-looking older man in a straw hat, showing visitors his woodcarvings and stone sculptures which possessed a marvellous emotional force and originality, as well as a compelling and raw expressiveness. Particularly impressive was the view of the high wall of his small courtyard, comprising stone faces and heads, joined and decoratively framed by a mosaic of tiles, pottery shards and seashells. There were also numerous figures and diverse materials – different kinds of wood, marble, concrete, volcanic stone, plaster, cork, masonite and more. Unfortunately, the brief text accompanying the photographs on Flickr contained neither the name nor the address of the artist. Luckily, one of the Italian tourists, a certain Vladimiro Testo, had left his email address, and I sent him a message at once.
Detail from stone wall, total wall dimensions 109.4 x 82.7 ins., 278 x 210 cm
From his reply I learned that he had taken the photographs, but he could not remember the name or address of the artist who had so willingly invited him to view his works. He did add that Tuscania is a small town and that it should not be a problem to find the creator of these works. It soon became apparent, however, that he was mistaken. The monogram “PM” was unknown to the employees of the local tourist information centre and to several young guides whom I contacted via the internet. Then it occurred to me that I might ask a contemporary professional artist living and working in Tuscania.
Of several possible websites, my choice fell on that of Mario Ciccioli, which I studied with growing interest. I anxiously awaited a reply. This time, my intuition did not fail me; in his prompt reply, Ciccioli informed me that the autodidact I was searching for had been his longtime friend, that his name was Pietro Moschini, and that he had unfortunately died two months earlier, towards the end of 2011.
In early June 2012, several months after my online discovery of the work of Pietro Moschini, I visited Tuscania to find out more about this sculptor.