My new friend Alessandra Barucchieri, who is an incredibly talented photographer and a rocking feminist mum, has been the first and only reader so far to heed my call for mother art. She is also the only Italian woman who's ever dared leave a comment on here, despite how much I would love to hear from more of you.
I know, I write in English, but that doesn't mean you have to comment in English! So benissimo leggere l'italiano--sono traduttrice dopo tutto! (I can read Italian well, I'm a translator after all!) Plus, enough of my readers can understand Italian.
Alessandra sent me this image of a painting by Leonardo Margiacchi (1929-1983), a native of Saletta, a hamlet near Fiesole (15 minutes north of Florence in the hills) that I had never even heard of before. From 1957 until his death Margiacchi was the parish priest of the tiny church of Santa Margherita, which contains some of his paintings. His work was influenced by artists like Goya, Munch, Van Gogh and De Chirico as well as his travels around the world.
Alessandra gave me permission to quote her for the rest, though she lacks details like title and where it's located now. What follows is my translation of what she wrote to me:
Margiacchi painted a lot. I believe he painted his study of "truth," and many of his paintings are disquieting...A booklet he published in 1973 begins like this:
"Man cannot be calm, because he is a thinking being. This is what subtly motivates his constant state of tension...But man has a terrifying ability to remain attached to a world that goes beyond his own limits. Herein lies the charm of truth, which never leaves man in peace. What is truth? You realize its dimensions are greater than the reach of your arms or the horizon where your sight arrives."
How is it that I came into contact with this person, or at least some of his works, considering I don't know him personally? Friends of mine used to rent a little house in Saletta. From 1985 to 2000 we spent many afternoons and evenings on various adventures there.
My daughters, along with my friends' children, spent day after day there from the time they were born, together with cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens, ducks and many other animals, up until just a few years ago. So we naturally got to know some of the people who lived in this little "village," if that's even what you can call the small group of houses that rose up alongside the church's protection.
One of these people, who still lives there, is Anna Formichini, whom we call "Annina" because she is small but ever so sprightly. Margiacchi was her cousin, and she was his housekeeper during the years he served as Saletta's parish priest.
Anna was in possession of all Leonardo's unsold paintings, and in the early 1990s she asked us to help her put on a show, which involved finding the paintings, cleaning them, framing them, then preparing them for the show and attending the show for its duration. These included the painting of motherhood that I shot for the photographic archive of the La Leche League with whom I was in contact, though not yet as a consultant.
When the show was over Anna gifted us with some of Leonardo's paintings. In fact, I have two at home, along with the book whose introduction I quoted above.
What else is there to say? Anna still lives in Saletta, a little old woman who's over eighty but still walks and takes the bus between Saletta, Fiesole and Florence. And she is as sprightly as ever, spirited and alert, forever coming up with new things to do! Whenever we go to visit she is so happy to see us again and gives everyone a hug...
I don't know if I've been of any help, or whether it even makes sense to write about that painting with so little information, but it has pleased me to think back on "those times"...
Grazie infinite Alessandra for letting me share these lovely words with the world and introducing us to this intriguing artist. I would just love to visit Santa Margherita (on whose namesake I'm preparing a future post) and meet Anna!