SOME COMMENTS BY “ART CRITICS” FROM THE ITALIAN PRESS
Wednesday - Thursday 28-29 of May 1947 - newspaper “Il Corriere della Sera” - Milan
GALLERIA DI ARTISTI LIGURI
GIORGIO MATTEO AICARDI
By Giovanni Riva
I met Aicardi when we were both fifteen years of age at the “Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti” in Genoa, I had joined the Academy to please my father and his passion for painting and as he had not been able to satisfy this ambition of his, he felt that I could, having shown artistic tendencies. Eventually it became evident to my father and to myself that I could not have attained success in the art, which I so love as a painter.
The prime reason that made evident my insufficient dexterity with paints and brushes was my noting the ease of Giorgio Matteo Aicardi’s drawing hand in mastering all the aspects of design, light and shade and with a few courageous lines could produce portraits, figures and any variety of subjects that measured up to those executed by masters of the art and not the spontaneous outburst of a fifteen year old boy who had just started at the Accademia.
G. M. A. and I became friends. I visited his house frequently, followed his progress constantly and many times I sat patiently, as often did the rest of my family. That he, as in a game, rapidly produced excellent portraits, capturing his subjects expressions with great ease while his companions at the “Accademia” laboured for hours to produce some modest approximation of their “studies”. At this point I didn’t persist, nor did my father, having witnessed his ability. I treasure to this day a portrait of my father, which Aicardi gave to him, that brings back memories of a particularly happy period of his life, his typical jocular expression so true to his character.
Born the 21st October 1891 in Finalborgo (Savona), G. M. A. probably inherited his vocation from his mother’s grandfather who was known to use in his free time reproducing engravings in ink and brush with good results. When Aicardi joined the “Accademia”, where he followed all the courses available up to the award of the five year “bursary” of Rome and Florence, he was not a real beginner, having studied at art school under the excellent patronage of Tullio Quinzio who taught the fundamental formal elements of drawing and painting. “Real Art” though no one can teach.
Concurrently to the “Accademia” he painted at the studio of that great Neapolitan painter, Giuseppe Pennasilico, who passed away a few years ago, but most of all in Rome first and subsequently in Florence he had the opportunity to learn the Art of the past masters and to exercise his faculties in a strictly pictorial manner.
At his return to Genoa during the first world war, Aicardi dedicated himself to any kind of challenge, including the running of the artistic needs of the “Ansaldo Company”, easily the largest manufacturing and manual engineering company in the region and in the country. Also in the very difficult and delicate art of restoring ancient paintings and “frescos”, which contributed to widen his knowledge of the technical and stylistic peculiarities of painters of every epoch and every school, gaining in this way the ability of reconstruct in the correct style artwork that had deteriorated by time, by the elements and by human negligence. Worth mentioning is his restoration of the “Prefettura Palace”, practically a repaint of the whole frontage, two “frescos” in the “Banca d’America e d’Italia” (nowadays Deutsche Bank), some great figures in “Palazzo Spinola” in Garibaldi Street-Genoa, he usually had to reconstruct from scarce and vague details. In the near past he directed and painted the reconstruction of a large “fresco” ruined by the second world war in “Villa Paradiso” in Albaro-Genoa. I hope that Aicardi’s unique ability, his know-how and methodical preparation is valued and employed in restoring the very many incalculable damage suffered by our palaces and churches.
Aicardi is the master of all methods of pictorial expression, from the large monumental “fresco”, the portrait, of which he is an undoubted master, the altar piece (he recently completed some), figurative compositions, even very large ones, to the smaller painting, landscape, still life, flowers; whatever technique required, painting and drawing, Giorgio Matteo Aicardi can do whatever he wants.
The volume of art he has produced is far too large to summarise in a small space. He has painted, from a very young age, in many churches (I point out at this point that Aicardi and several other Ligurian painters are capable to produce “frescos” with praiseworthy results to the cupolas of our churches rather than to resort to painters from other regions), painted dozens and dozens of portraits, of the kind that resemble the sitter and are well painted (not a bad thing!), groups of large figures on large canvases, demonstrating that still, at present, someone is able to compose a painting with credible complex rhythms. He has painted throughout the war years (often on the move owing to the war in itself and for the persecutions of which he was a target for being openly antifascist) producing about one hundred landscapes, a part of which was the nucleus of a personal exhibition at the “Renzini Gallery”, coinciding with the “Liberation” of Italy. This exhibition was such a huge success from the critics, visitors and sales that Aicardi was left with very few pictures.
Giorgio Matteo Aicardi has therefore demonstrated, and still does, to be a lively and valuable exponent of modern ligurian art and, foremost, to emulate that splendid tradition of “fresco” painters that Genoa boasted in the previous century such as David, Banchero, Tagliafichi, Bacigalupi, Pucci, Baratta, Isola, Gandolfi, Semino, Barabino, Quinzio, Gainotti, Bertelli, Vernazza and this in a simply modern way.
March - April 1985 - newspaper “Il Progresso” - Genoa
UN GRANDE PITTORE LIGURE
GIORGIO MATTEO AICARDI
By Giovanni Paganelli
Giorgio Matteo Aicardi was born eighth of nine children, in Finalborgo- (Savona) in 1891, son of Giuseppe and Francesca Muzio, his family has resided in Liguria for many generations. With love and foresight his mother protected Giorgio Matteo’s artistic vocation and with her help the very young man, moved to Genoa and, after the initial studies, enrolled at the “Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti” having, among others, as a teacher the great painter Giuseppe Pennasilico.
At the end of his studies he obtained his diploma and initiated a long journey as a painter. At twenty years of age, having already won the “Fondazione Brignole” competition, he won the competition for the “Pensionato Quinqennale”, a five year bursary, which allowed him to live for several years in Florence and Rome. For Aicardi this was a fundamental experience to realize a more complete artistic formation, having giving him the opportunity to frequent painters, sculptors and writers, and to analyse visually and technically the old masters paintings in Rome, particularly, the “frescos” in the “Sistina Chapel”.
I have had the pleasure to study many examples of Aicardi’s work of his Roman Period: drawings, pastels and oils, strong powerful figures, painted with the thrust of a michelangelesque emphasis. In that period only a few tones of his palette, particularly azures and whites are reminiscent of complex “novecentista” tonality. The Roman landscapes are idealised, the “laziale” countryside is interpreted in postimpressionist terms, giving an indication of the emotions that developed further in the Genoise Period.
On his return to Genoa, Aicardi showed an autonomous character and his paintings became a poetic illustration of nature and of the human figure. A solid and happy family life, with his wife Carmela Veruda (at first his pupil and then, from 1929, his consort) and his three children Francesco, Ada and Giovanna, instilled serenity and security in his art.
In a span of many years Aicardi exhibited in the “Promotrice Genovese,” exhibitions, he held personal exhibitions in very many Italian towns. He was nominated “Accademico di Merito” nella classe di Pittura dell’”Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti” in 1938 and, in 1980, member of the college of: “Accademia di Cultura e Belle Arti Santa Chiara” of Genoa-artistic section. In 1964 he exhibited also in Brazil and Argentina. He painted large and important frescos in churches in Liguria, Tuscany and Piemonte, receiving great satisfaction and deserved praise. An important activity of Giorgio Matteo Aicardi was the restoration of frescos of important masters, ravaged by the war. His sensibility helped Aicardi first to penetrate into the soul of the author and then to intervene upon the paintings. He never added any personal touches but revealed the hand of the painter in an artistic and spiritual contact with the old masters. Many of his frescos are in churches (Cornigliano, Voltri, Finalborgo), in historic palaces (Spinola in Genoa, Muzio in Voltri) in private villas and Government buildings in Tuscany and various Italian regions.
Recently professor Giuseppe Parodi, director of this newspaper, during one of his artistic tours came across two tapestries painted many years ago by Aicardi. They are grandious processional banners that throw new lights on our painter. One, in “Santo Cristo Oratory” in Sestri Ponente, depicts “Saint John the Baptist”, the saint of the parish and the confraternity that resided there in the past. The other in “San Gaetano Oratory”, in Cornigliano, depicting “Santa Rita da Cascia”. The “Pro Civitate” museum in Assisi holds the photographic documentation of Aicardi’s religious art. The artist had some important public charges, among them “Fiduciario della Sovrintendenza ai Monumenti per la Liguria” (trustee for the management of all monuments in the Ligurian region).
The intrinsic worth of G. M Aicardi’s art, lies also in the wide range of techniques he mastered, always obtaining excellent results. All these art forms have however the distinction to be evidently born out of his personal inventivity. In 1978 I had the honour to encounter him personally, meeting him in his house in Albaro, where I was welcomed with cordiality. I felt slightly embarrassed, because Aicardi was a well known artist, but his simplicity and his gentle manners put me at ease straight away. Immediately he seemed like an old friend met again after many years. In that house there were no traces on the walls regarding his activity as a painter, only exception if I remember correctly, one large painting depicting the wife and the three children, a painting of many years ago. That painting summarised the pictorial and cultural experiences that Aicardi had encountered in the years of his period in Rome. In a study-room there was a large collection of paintings of different periods, graphic notes of murals, small and large pictures. Fifty years of painting! sketches, lots of sketches, still life, landscapes, marine, his memories of Celle Ligure, the docks in Genoa, the Ligurian hinterland and sketches on various themes that- he said- “I could have done better.”
Aicardi had been described to me as a difficult personality, surely, reserved, not easily befriended. Instead he was straightforward, sincere, open, he told me of his interest in ancient art, of his fondness for the drawings of Piola, Fiasella and other past artists.
He, a great expert, had collected many drawings of old Genoise masters, he loved beautiful things, antiques (his house demonstrated this), in short, he was a man interested in all the arts. He tried to explain his method of drawing and painting, he spoke a lot, I listened to his knowledge, trying to catch the most hidden meanings. He described himself as “an instinctive painter, faithful to reality, always seeking to interpret human sentiments”. Had a great love to draw (his nude drawings are memorable) he had an almost incredible drawing facility, his character always led him to study in depth the things that interested him, he logged meticulously every drawing, painting, dates, places, shows, exhibitions he had participated in (they were very many).
We formed a good friendship, he often visited “Arte Casa” (art gallery), we spoke of many subjects of exhibitions, books and, obviously, about painting. In the company of my late lamented associate and friend Giuliano Orsetti, Aicardi gave detailed analysis about the weave between art and politics of the years between the twenties and forties. Our was a relationship of mutual respect and maybe understanding, I recognised in him a great painter and he, very kindly, numbered me among those who work to help to enhance the value of Ligurian artists. Upon his death, in 1984, his son Francesco informed me that his beloved father had expressed the wish that I should be consulted concerning his pictorial works, after his passing away.
From this was born the first posthumous exhibition in Finalborgo, sponsored by “Cassa di Risparmio di Savona” bank and held in the “Chiostri di Santa Caterina”, an exhibition that was very successful both for visitors and critics. Furthermore, also at the exhibition “Genoa, il Novecento”, sponsored by “Cassa di Risparmio di Genova Imperia” bank, a very interesting series of advertising “bozzetti” (sketches) dated from 1930 to 1935 (Ansaldo Cantiere Navale, Gambarotta, S. V. A.). In this last form of expression Aicardi stood out for his masterly inventive and graphic mark, considering that the advertising poster is the son of modern industrial art. He was able to achieve sketches compatible with his artistic being and the subject basis, never falling for the ease of object portrayal.
In the many depth analysis of the world of art, talking about Paolo de Gaufridy’s book “Del Governo dell’Arte” (the Governing of Art), a written test of history and criticism of art, Aicardi, though undoubtedly considering without a shadow of a doubt de Gaufridy a cultured and well prepared art critic and agreeing on many theories, he did not agree on one thing and that is:…” the artist cannot be imprisoned in a rigid classification even when theoretically he belongs…”
Giorgio Matteo Aicardi was an authentic poet of nature, of the human being, a brilliant originator, a great painter of murals. These qualities are sufficient to put him to a level of pre-eminence. Genoa was probably too small and narrow but never the less I must recognise that to the Genoise this artist has been and still is in their hearts because they are respectful admirers of genuine art.
I hope his heirs, cultured and sensitive as they are will want to offer, in the not too distant future, the opportunity to appreciate the work of their distinguished father and, through this, the stupendous paintings he realised in so many years of activity, organising a posthumous exhibition in Genoa.
GIORGIO MATTEO AICARDI (1891-1984) The Man, The Painter, The Artist
MIAMI - GENOA - LONDON
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