Puglia had a real effect on us. For me personally, it completed the picture of who my father was. He was born in Molfetta and had a simple, joyful way about him--the same qualities I found in most people I met in Puglia. When we stayed in Trullo Gallo Rosso near Alberobello, our host Hugo had some prints of paintings hanging on his wall that illustrates the vitality, sense of community, love of food and wine and wonderful colors of Puglia... the artist was Vincenzo Milazzo.
Milazzo captures the everyday life of Puglia in the same way that Grandma Moses captured life in rural America. His characters are depicted doing everyday things--baking bread, having a meal or working in the field. His style is similar to Moses in that the rules of perspective and proportion are pretty much broken, but that's the charm of Primitive Art... it's childlike in its simplicity and colors. In Italian, this style is called L'Arte Naïf, or Naïve Art.
The really unique thing is how Milazzo creates his art... he painstakingly paints in reverse on glass. That is, he holds the glass facing him as he reaches around the back to apply his paints to the back side of the glass. The subjects in his paintings are always full of life--you almost feel that you know them... an uncle here, a cousin there, perhaps a neighbor. Symbolism is important in his works, too. Take his lanterns. There are almost always kerosene lanterns in his paintings. And then there's the animals... dogs, cats, birds... even a turtle. Of course, there are trulli--those pointy conical houses that Milazzo's part of Puglia is famous for. He represents their whitewashed fairy qualities perfectly.
His paintings seem to show a past life, but from what I've seen of life in his Valle d'Itria, he is also capturing the current lifestyle as well. For me, his work speaks of gusto--in the true Italian meaning of the word--to taste life. That's what the Pugliese do every day with their food, their music, The Cheese, The Pasta, The Grape and their great Primativo wines, their love of The Olive and their 2000 year old olive trees, and their smiles. I've never found such warm and genuine smiles as I did in Puglia... something that is also found on the people's faces captured on glass by Milazzo. His paintings are full of life and love of The Life... La Vita Pugliese.
Vincenzo Milazzo's Facebook Page...
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All images used in this review are copyrighted by Vincent Milazzo.