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Norberto Martini, 1940 - 2007

"The Magic of Martini"

I knew Norberto Martini when he was studying singing at the Entro di' Avviamento lirico of the Teatro Massimo di Palermo, where I was teaching. His was the voice of the authentic baritone, of such a dark timbre, volume, and power as to be defined as of Verian quality.

Today I find myself before his oils, trying mentally to compose the two images: while my pupil, in recollection, usde to paint the musical page with strong energetic brush strokes and Verdian phrasing, the same person now paints a unique harmony of musical and pictorial emotion - necomposing with the same ardor, by means of the blares of colour, the dynamism, the movements of his paintings.

As a boy Martini didn't pursue the path of the alter boy, but having always had a passion for music - he was in the Schola Cantorum of his parish. From the priests he came to know the smell of the tunic: its mold, its sweat, and its incense. He is quite familiar with the Latin liturgy, the struggles to get control of the thurible, the little bell of the Sancrus, the corridors that open out onto nowhere like magic closets, the great living frescoes, and the group photos in the courtyard.

The poetry and passion of Martini are born right out of this impact with things - on the one hand "his" Theatre with its immense values, its spaces with snatches of light, contrasted with columns and figures always in movement, filled with ardor and impetus; yet on the other hand his mysterious sacristies, parochial halls, cathedrals - throwing the sacred furnishings into disarray; provoking a magical happiness with little caps and tunics that flutter; fugues/flights of rooms; of corridors populated with spiteful alter boys in white cottas; courtyards animated by tunics; terraces and windows with priests armed with great shrewdness; open umbrellas and hat air balloons that lift themselves up to a free sky.

This is the world of Martini, between sacred and profane, between reality and dream, characterized by a festive air, but at the same time melancholy, with a frenetic imagination that becomes colore, shadow, allegory - painting that never ceases to investigate or to seek to excavate the real existing beneath the appearences: a paining that calles itself "Norberto Martini."

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