Massimo Tizzano, Kitsch painter

From north to south, from east to west, this is the story of the painter Massimo Tizzano.

Massimo was born into a family from the south that moved to the north, then he moved again further north to reach his master, Norwegian Odd Nerdrum, and after a few years he returned to live in Calabria following his roots and the colours. He breathed the sea air of Calabria, the Norwegian mountains, and of the Po Valley of Padua and Bologna where he had lived and studied.

But his inner journey followed different paths. Although he grew up in the West, which would like him to be an economist and a manager, Massimo came to painting through the East following a rather original route. His father was a painter and so also his godfather but, at some point he moved away from art.

With all these confusing signals, with the university that pressed on with boring and uninspiring topics of study, Massimo took refuge in yoga and martial arts. Zen culture and the forging of a sense for manual skills and concentration. Those who dedicate themselves to Aikido must be able to use all their physical, mental and spiritual resources. It takes great concentration and great physical practice in which the actions are repeated millions of times until they are completely absorbed and become part of the man. Until there is no distinction between mind and body.

From martial arts Massimo Tizzano came to the calligraphy master Norio Nagayama. Calligraphy in China and Japan is a high form of artistic expression. The works of the great masters of the past written on rice paper, are engraved on stone to preserve them and to let their teaching continue for future generations. It takes years to learn how to make the gesture of writing a character on paper in a few seconds, years that are spent to learn the deeper meaning of the ideograms that are representative of the real world.

“There is not a good painter who is not also a great calligrapher” (Japanese saying).

Calligraphy was born and then a flood, and a burning desire to learn how to paint. No limitations and boundaries, no economics, but the contemplation of the world and of beauty. Philosophy of life and painting blend in passion. Years to copy the paintings of old masters (especially Italian and Flemish of the period between 1400 and 1600) to learn the techniques and the know-how to copy. His spirit is that of apprentices in workshops of the masters.

“One needs to do much exercise before you can release emotions on canvas. As the Japanese chefs who must learn to chop vegetables for three years before cutting fish, so I spent years learning calligraphy before my venture into painting.”

Massimo began a picture by first realizing the frame and preparing the canvas. He prepares the colours alone starting from the pigments and focusing on those he wants to trial. But, now he is no longer just a copyist of the highest level. With his master, Odd Nerdrum, he has advanced to the philosophy of Kitsch and participates in the positive rebirth of this term too long misunderstood.

“Kitsch is a term that refers to the emotion, which hides meanings and philosophical values antithetical to contemporary art: pathos and feelings, tragedy and joy in life, situations that modern conceptual art tends to hide. For me there should be no mediators to reach the viewer’s heart. The message must be understandable to all if it is to represent the archetypes of man.”

A person with this story is a natural cross between different cultures. Experiences that have been absorbed and personalized in a unique expression that is found in the self-portraits and paintings such as the young samurai figures or in the beautiful ‘The Seeker’.

The forthcoming exhibition in Citta della Pieve has been strongly supported as a tribute to the Perugino, Pietro Vannucci, and the great masters of the past. Special guest will be the art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, with whom Massimo shares the battle to preserve the memory of the past and the defence of beauty.