|Untiringly he drew the faces of women, of old
men, and the long series of coalmen who, having carried their sacks
along the banks of the San Vio, black to the very wrinkles of their
sweaty faces, went to drink a glass at the Cantinone Storico
which was then a splendid osteria, thick with suffused
shadows, smelling of winestained wood. With them he makes friends.
They posed for him, with that little dose of ironic wisdom, and then
they challenged him to armwrestling.
He takes part in the annual group exhibitions at Bevilacqua La Masa:
the first time they reject one of his painting and then they let him
understand that he was only open to drawings, and he feels that in
the prizes they accord to his drawings there is the taste of polemic.
He would never get recognition for his painting in that place. He
sends paintings and drawings to the many Prizes of various
importance which begin to proliferate everywhere, including the extempore
ones: there is always the chance of going home with a little money,
on Sunday evening. In this way his long, never resolved conflict with
the dignitaries of art begins, which slowly would make him into a
disdainful isolated man, hostile and headstrong to the limits of rejection.
The Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation gives him one of the studios in
Palazzo Carminati at San Stae, which he was to keep for ten years.
Lots and lots of stairs and then that oasis of enchanted solitude
where he can paint his roofs, that calm expanse of roofs
which were always the same and always new with the changing light,
where the object began to lose its value when what was important was
the system of the volumes and the contrast of the masses of colour.
That studio signifies such a lot for him, a space all to himself where
finally he can confront himself in his silent dialogue with painting.
He had no money Im an aristocratic proletarian, he would
then always say with ironic pride. He sells and undersells his work
to buy tempera to grind up on his improvised marble, to buy rolls
of wrapping paper on which to let rip with his charcoal pencil his
need to do and undo.