The Argentinian Luthier


oil and gold leaf on canvas, 50x50cm, 2018

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oil and gold leaf on canvas, 50x50cm, 2018

This is the portrait of one of those people who cross our life path, faster than a shooting star. And brighter.
He’s a gifted young man who travelled from Argentina in order to fulfil his dream to become a luthier.
When I first asked him to pose for me, I only had a vague idea of what my painting would represent: a skilled artisan at work, a nameless violin maker.
But while my mind and my hands were working on the canvas, another idea started to come to life and suddenly there he was: the man himself, surrounded by what has defined him and always will.
I’d like to see it as a homage to his work and as a reminder of what he truly is, for when the distant past aches, the disappointing present hurts and the unknown future is too dark and deep.

The background is basically divided into two separate parts: on the right side I’ve represented a violin made by his favorite luthier, Nicola Amati. This is not the instrument I know he’d have chosen, but with its peculiar decoration, the “King Louis XIV” is immediately recognizable as one of Amati’s.
On the left side there’s his workshop with some of his countless gouges.
That’s in here that I had the most fun: I painted five Easter eggs. The easiest to spot are his childhood giant white rabbit, Roman, poking out of a drawer; the Argentinian flag, folded on a shelf; a porongo with its bombilla to drink mate, the typical Argentinian drink (which apparently I’ll never be able to properly make); and the Polish Scouting brooch, lying on the worktable, as the symbol of his most life-shaping experience. My favorite Easter egg, though, is less visible: the spectator might need to be a hugely annoying Star Wars geek (as he is) to spot the outline of R2-D2 in the top right corner. I honestly had a good laugh with it.
Last, but not least, the violin he’s holding in his hands is the instrument he was actually working on at the time: a Stradivari Mediceo model. I used gold leaf in order to catch all the light in that point. Depending on how you turn the painting, the gold leaf reflects the dark side and the light side that are in everyone of us.


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