“Art is a voice that constantly calls me from within. If I pay attention and listen, answering gives me balance and connects me to the immanent."
In order to live, Gaetano Tommasi deals with marketing and is therefore in contact with many people all day long. He makes paintings to have balance. Born on May 23, 1973, from Puglia, in a town of 10,000 inhabitants in the province of Taranto, Italy. His childhood was serene in many ways because he was in contact with nature, his parents were agricultural laborers and also because he was always in contact with many children in his hometown ward. His childhood was dotted with various episodes in which he experienced a feeling of "abandonment," a feeling that has become fixed and that it has brought and carries with him even though it has been elaborated today. As a boy, he alternated between moments of euphoria with other children on a bicycle ride all day through the countryside full of ears of wheat dotted here and there with wild purple cornflowers that he collected and climbing on the olive trees film on the fronds more subtle "as if we were the law, the birds almost without gravity," as stated by him. He had perennially peeled knees and various other dents. At other times, however, he was isolated in a psychological state of melancholy and a sense of abandonment and he remembers well intense and prolonged crying sessions. His parents as farm laborers had a very difficult life, they worked from very early morning until late evening so he was often entrusted to his grandparents and of those moments he keeps memories that are of joy, magic and mystery in the ancient house with the stairs carved into the rock made on several levels and with the classic "star" vaults typical of the area. Rather than playing around, as a child, he preferred to draw by filling notebooks with notebooks of drawings.
Growing up, his passion for drawing never left him until it materialized after a course of studies in other sectors in 2011, in which he began an evening course of oil painting. Gaetano Tommasi completed his military life for four years in the Italian Navy, which he left for dissatisfaction to resume his studies, completed high school and enrolled in Biological Sciences obtaining his degree in 2001. He started working in pharmaceutical marketing and at the same time he started and completed the university course in Communication and Marketing. In October 2018, he enrolled at the Aldo Galli Academy in Como.
Between full-time work and studies, he used time cuttings for pictorial research which he considers a mine in which one must dig, also running the risk of not finding anything, not even a grain of gold. According to Tommasi, the research process counts much more than reaching a goal because the goals are chimeras which, however, help us to live by pursuing them, fully.
In the works of Gaetano Tommasi the light reveals the individuality of the subject, his unconscious purity and his hidden world; he draws inspiration from author's photographs, from films or uses as models people met by chance: faces that stir not only aesthetic inspirations in him, but in which the painter recognizes something that communicates the variegated beauty of today's man, evoked without trivial idealizations. Realism as an end in itself is transcended, with the aim of grasping the mystery of the existence represented and the further depth hidden in eyes that seek ours, like the dark and penetrating ones of an Arab boy "Wassef", or in looks aimed at scrutinizing someone or something expected that will remain unknown to us. The painter wishes to discover that truth which, although it is impossible to totally possess, the spiritual strength of painting helps to investigate, opening up a way to answer the enigma of man. Art can unite the immense human variety, harmonizing its diversity.
Gaetano Tommasi began with his first personal exhibition "Of faces and landscapes," in a small tower in the province of Modena in 2014. Since then, he has exhibited in solo and group shows in some municipalities in Emilia-Romagna and in Puglia and Tuscany.
Gaetano Tommasi offers us beautiful memories through his works of art. His art is melancholic. Somehow, through his art, you are able to relive moments even if you never actually experienced them. His art is heartfelt. As if that contrast between light and dark is the reflection of our everyday life. There is a sincerity in each piece that simply speaks to you.
Q. What role does the Artist have in society?
A. The role of keeping the soul of man alive and alert ... The artist is a commutator of energies ... filters everything he sees and hears.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. That frantic joy that took me in the morning when I woke up as soon as it was a day of celebration or in the summer and I knew I would go to the sea ... I stamped my feet in the bed because for joy I couldn't keep them still and a tickle irrepressible took me in the belly.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I dreamed of becoming a "draftsman".
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I remember a fairy tale that we illustrated in class in elementary school. Each child had to represent a souvenir scene that I designed mine which the teacher liked very much and then I drew many other drawings for most of the class.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. In 2011 after an articulated course of studies in the scientific and communication fields, after various types of work including the Petty Officer in the Navy for 4 years I realized that I never stopped drawing and painting with gauche pastel watercolors and I reflected that the more I relegated the thing in the corner of a few occasional moments the more the urge became pressing and I understood that it was also therapeutic for me because it appeased all my other anxieties and through the support of the creative act that I reached some real latitude of mine authentic satisfying and reassuring. I painted metaphysical scenarios with gatherings of imaginary women with their heads as twisted as a snail and strange peacock-like birds interacting with the women and snails going up and down from these women-muse-statues. Then in 2011 the first course done in an organic and orderly way on the use of oil. 2011 is the year when I started painting seriously and continuously.
Q. Tell us about your style. What Inspires You? What connection do you have to your art?
A. I start from an image that I see with my eyes in my daily life ...
A person met by chance, a gaze that strikes me, a situation that somehow activates the machine of creativity, that is, an automatic intent, to fix and rework that ecstatic moment of mine and to make it usable to myself later and share it with others. By painting and deepening above all the "why" of my painting beyond the technical aspects that are still important, I am reaching, while remaining in the vein of the figurative which is based on reality, to a style in which beyond the representation itself I try to move something working a lot on the side of the "estrangement" that I pursue with the choice of the subject the context and the atmosphere in which the subject is dropped, an object or a relationship with an object that I paint close to the subject that creates a sort of displacement and I try to probe and try to move something in me and in others also through the chromatic combinations and thickness and direction of the brush strokes.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. My art would like to express moments of suspension ... moments in which the element of time becomes rarefied in which we are not tangled in its vises. Those moments in which we feel we perceive a vague clot of deep and authentic substance, moments of connection with that dimension of us that we often ignore by living in speed and with a continuous distance from us. I stick to reality in a figurative painting with the human subject at the center but with connotations of magic and suspension.
Q. Which personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Sometimes I have been impulsive and quick-tempered ... Paying for the price and important consequences ... but slowly the reflection on myself, I hope, is leading me to know how to mitigate these character asperities and be more balanced.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I sacrifice daily the freedom to be able to do a little sport but above all I sacrifice myself in order to better design and structure my painting works ... painting is not my job that allows me to support myself for which I dedicate them all the extra free time I can have ... in the evenings and weekends and as soon as I have a free moment ... So, the sacrifice lies above all in having to sip the energies, dose them, to be able to invest them in the various activities ... The sacrifice it consists above all in being pulled by so many forces that go in different directions and in any case try to keep the point of commitment and research.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. The major influences in the field of painting come with the comparison with the painting of the other members of the Gelba Group of which I belong in particular with Andrea Federici who despite having a pictorial style different from mine in terms of choice of subjects, in the brush strokes and in the colors, we always try to compare ourselves on many aspects of painting. The same thing happens with Barbara Antonelli, Ersilia Leonini and Luigi Tamanini with whom we discuss the broader meaning of painting.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Unfortunately, there is not much space in my life order, because of loneliness ... because to live economically I arrange another job that leads me to be in contact with many people all day long ... I love painting and the moment of art mainly in solitude because that is finally a dimension entirely for myself, a sanctuary where I am alone. Nonetheless, cyclically I have the opportunity to compare myself with other artist friends, in particular with Andrea Federici but also with Barbara Antonelli, Ersilia Leonini and Luigi Tamanini with the four of them we have formed the GELBA group of which I was the co-founder.
With the group we discuss the themes of figurative painting, specifically the human figure, and from time to time we make workshops on the weekends by painting together with the living model.
Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A. Apart from art, I like to visit places and perceive their history.
I like being in the company of the right friends, loving and sharing.
I listen to jazz and classical music and sometimes cook and consequently drink wine.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success is something that concerns the sphere of narcissism ... In my path of life reflection while recognizing a part in me I try to look at it when this can become a narcissistic trap ... I am interested in having recognition of my art in the measure in which I want to feel recognized as a man, not as an artist, this if there is a consequence.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. In life so far, I have learned that one must always think of oneself as limited and contingent.
Always thinking about the time limit imposed on me allows me to go in another direction towards the center of me towards which I try to reach out as much as possible.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. A friend, met in adulthood, suggested that I take care of myself with an intense and in-depth psychological analysis that continues to do today. Thanks to this suggestion, to this decision, I started to seriously listen to the call of Art to give it the space it required of me.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. To the next generation of the council to study and know because only by knowing can you be free, only by knowing and being free can you live in a society that allows you to express yourself for all that you are. Art needs a society rich in cultural oxygen that allows it to breathe.