painted by the sun


“The first form of art was only of a line, which surrounded the shadow of man made by the sun nor walls”. This is a phrase by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the figures who have always been one of my sources of inspiration: I promise you that I will slowly tell you about the others too, but today’s story starts right from him and from this phrase of his. One morning, driven as always by curiosity, I decided to put this intuition of the Renaissance genius to the test: I took a remnant of blue silk that I had left over from a job I had just finished and, to the great surprise of my assistants, I folded it and hung it on a window: I was curious to see how exposure to the sun would transform that piece of fabric.

It hung there for a few years and I, caught up as always with my thousand projects, had almost forgotten about it. One day a gentleman came to see me, accompanied by his mother, almost intimidated by the request he was about to make of me. It was, in fact, a gift that he wanted to give to his family to honor the memory of his father, who throughout his life had served on board the largest ships of the Italian Navy. In his hands they held eight simple ribbons, all that remained of that long career: they had kept them as if they were oracles, they wanted to enhance them, but he couldn’t imagine how. I asked them to tell me as much as possible, I also listened carefully to their breaths and I fell in love with this unique project, born from simple but precious materials because they are full of love. You know by now that just mentioning the navy makes my heart beat faster in my chest, but that morning his pulse was faster than usual. I immediately said that I would accept the job, but that I would need some time. I had already decided that the absolute protagonists of that work should have been the tapes: holding them in my hands, I received the story, the life, the emotions and the passion experienced over time.

And so the days went by and my desire to create a meaningful work grew. Then the inspiration finally came! I decided to weave the ribbons, like excerpts of life connected to each other, forming a network of experiences and connections. It was a magical moment, because I finally felt that the subjects were talking to each other, intertwining in a symbolic embrace. Satisfied, I moved on to the support fund which seemed to me the simplest part. I tried some old nautical charts, they created a pleasant movement, but I didn’t get the authenticity I wanted to convey. I drew imaginary routes with compass roses, but the two subjects didn’t seem to communicate with each other. I tried friezes from the ancient Navy: beautiful, but they put the ribbons in the background.

I was stranded for days, then the answer came loud and clear: only the sea it could be the appropriate fund. Drawing the sea is one of the most difficult challenges for those who know it well, have lived and breathed it. Transmitting its essence, expressing the immensity, the depth and the undulating movements that contain mysteries and adventures… it is impossible! So, as I always do when I’m looking for inspiration, I started looking out the window, almost expecting that the idea would come to me from there.

And he did: in front of my eyes was the remnant of silk I had forgotten. I took it in my hands, gently plucked it from the space it had occupied all those years, and slowly unfolded it on the worktable. In front of me unfolded the beauty of a fabric that the sun had transformed into a painting, where horizontal lines of different shades of blue and ash blue alternated with each other in perfect harmony, capable of suggesting the sensation of peaceful nostalgia of a calm sea during a winter day.

It was exactly what I was looking for, something that wasn’t just celebratory, but that sweetly encapsulated the feeling that that man felt for his father: I finished the job with emotion, and I was happy to find that same feeling in the eyes of the people that commissioned it. I won’t repeat the words with which he thanked me, they are too personal and too heartfelt to make them public. With this memory I just wanted to thank, together with him, the sun that helped me find the right colors to paint his feelings. And, of course, Leonardo da Vinci.