I had met Albino a few years before he came to Friuli. They had
sent me to Venice to organise the participation of some Venetians
at an exhibition to be held in Gradisca, between 1951 and 1954.
On the door of the bar The Artists Place, in Campo
St. Barnaba there was a blond guy, dressed in white. He was smiling
behind a cloud of bluish smoke. Albino was an affirmed painter,
he lived in an important city like Venice and he sold paintings
in America. Nonetheless he offered the unknown and embarrassed
young man a welcome that was both kind and grandiose: foreign
cigarettes and strange coloured drinks that he had never seen
Vedova, Santomaso and Pizzinato played scopone (a kind of card
game) at the Salute, so did Sergi on the Rio Nuovo, so did Renzini
at the Malcanton Foundation, so did Borsato, Barbaro and Schulz
at Palazzo Carminati, as did Pontini in Terà, and Morandis,
Bacci and Gaspari at the Fenice Tavern with Giudi who did not
know how to unmatch. We went from one studio to another, collecting
paintings for that exhibition in the country. Bepi Longos
face was ruined by a merciless illness. Dont get upset
said Albino, even for him, poor thing, doesnt even
We met ten years later in Friuli. Neorealism was over and
we no longer painted ugly pictures, at least, not those ones.
There was no longer talk of Contents, but of Operations. But Albino
went around on his little scooter between Buia and Tarcento, he
stopped under the tree outside the inn and talked with the old
woman. And in the meanwhile he watched the river, the white stones,
the sky, the hills, the fields, the trees, the mountains, the
sun. He drew from them symbols of force, happiness and insuperable
We did not talk very much about our work, more about many other
things, we joked, I argued with Giselda. What was there to talk
about? If in a painting you see someone that you have already
met in the street as it is getting dusk when it is bad weather,
or the tree that lent out its branches as you passed by in train,
or a sleeping hill (the usual clichés), then whats
there to talk about?
Four or five friends, who lived and painted very differently,
but who shared a similar way of considering this profession. In
brief, we had remained behind.
For me Albino was above all someone who came from Venice, and
who brought from that city, together with the air of a great gentleman,
the certainties of one who had grown up in the shadow of the Frari.
Sometimes, in front of a painting that I wanted to throw away,
it was enough for Albino to say youre mad.
He also used to say youre mad (Ti xe mato) to
me for another reason, for my recurring desire to organise the
artists. We had met for the first time for an exhibition supported
by the money of workers in the Isonzo area, and we had not strayed
far from those reasons. The public institution as a counterpart
to an artists union, a purchaser that would substitute,
at least partially, the collecting by the rich. His irony and
my obstinacy did little to hide our discomfort. But our
world is schizoid, dear friends.
One of Albinos characteristics was that his attention was
always drawn to genuine, even if modest, people (poarin)
poor thing. On the other hand, to certain very intelligent
people he made disconcerting and scathing remarks. Once I regretted
not knowing how to understand the art of Veronese, shocking a
collegue. Albino first descredited the Veronese and then the collegue.
Later outside, walking quickly as was habit, holding a cigarette,
he talked of the canvases of St. Sebastian as if he had painted
them himself and smiled, happy of his paradoxes. This was so,
as about paintings you could say what you wanted to, as words
had little to do with it anyway.
translated by Rebecca N. Kay
From the catalogue of the 20 years of painting exhibition,
held at the Museum of Modern Art, Udine, 1988