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I knew Norberto Martini when he was studying singing at the Centro 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 Verdian quality. Today I find myself before his oils, trying mentally to compose the two images: while my pupil, in recollection, used 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 hot 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 color, shadow, allegory—painting that never ceases to investigate or to seek to excavate the real existing beneath the appearances: a painting that calls itself "Norberto Martini".
In painting Magical Libraries I see parallelism with life. For example, the books that I paint have been confined through the years if not centuries on old and dusty shelves which are also set in the severe atmosphere of old parochial halls.
Then suddenly, in a magical moment these books become alive and try to fly away. They can be fables, Romances or Biographies of important persons.
What bring them to life are the characters that live between the pages. This is the Fantasy and the meaning of my Magical Libraries!
My two passions in life since I was a young boy were painting and opera music. In my youth I have been practicing both of them.
I was a student in the opera house "Teatro Massimo" of Palermo for two years, but then I made the decision to devote myself exclusively to my artwork.
Never the less this experience in the theatre greatly influenced my painting. It can easily be seen that the subject of opera for me is of great importance and I transfer this theatrical background to my canvas, the stage settings, the light and the movement.
Every painting for me in a way has the passion and drama of the opera. This is my Passion!
My painting of Cardinals and Choir Boys are not always showing them in the traditional environment of churches and cathedrals that one would normally think of.
I also see them in a more relaxed and luxurious setting such as a beautiful garden and courtyards.
Here the Cardinals are walking, meditating, reading and exchanging ideas. Enjoying the natural atmosphere outside of their daily structure. Naturally when the Cardinals are present there are also my humorous and sometimes playful Choir Boys.
I bring them in to show the two sides of life. Authority and severity on one hand - and a whimsicalness on the other hand.
In fact, the Choirboys are playful, joyous and not really conscious of the seriousness of life.
Though they are aware of the surrounding authority, they are constantly running away from it and occasionally they even dare to play in their spiteful way some tricks around the Cardinals who are immersed in their own thoughts.
The reason why in many of my Paintings you will often find Cardinals in the Cathedrals or in big parochial halls is because I see a parallelism with life.
The Cardinals are representing the higher hierarchy and authority and the little Chior boys around them are very often trying to run away from the established hierarchy.
Being an artist I really love everything that relates to painting.
I love the artist's studio with all the mess and confusion that exists within, and the live presence of the painter and of the model.
My interpretation of the model comes from my imagination. She is never predictable, she can be nude, she can be seductive, she can be bored or perhaps only a profile, her back or her shoulders.
This is because to the model represents an imaginary Ideal woman who does not exist.