First published: Spring 2021
A semi-literate farmhand, artist Pietro Ghizzardi (1906–1986) was without doubt self-taught, and today is considered to be one of the most relevant creators on the Italian and international scene.
Pietro Ghizzardi, c. 1980s, photo: L Morelli
Born in 1906 in Mantua, northern Italy, he came from a humble peasant family and grew into a sickly teenager at a time that was marked by the deprivation and poverty that afflicted his community in the lowlands of the River Po after World War I.
His move into the world of art was not expected: it was a world that was incomprehensible to the people of his social class, judged as useless, dangerous even, when for so many it was difficult to acquire even the essentials to survive. As recorded in his autobiography, Mi Richordo Anchora (“I remember still”), Ghizzardi began to paint in 1929 soon after moving with his family to the southern bank of the Po, in the rural province of Reggio Emilia.
Detail of Adam and Eve fresco at Casa Falugi, 1969, tempera on wall
Previously, he had been dazzled when he watched his cousin – a painter or, rather, a decorator – drawing a realistic watermelon on a courtyard wall; and, later, seeing an embroiderer sewing elaborate initials on to bed sheets, he was struck by the power of the symbol, a notion that would stay with him forever.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #107