''I was born under Taurus in 1953 in a small northern Italian town called Rovigo and it was May 4th, the day of my sixth birthday, when my family moved to Turin to seek their fortune. The only things I remember about my town of origin are the branches of the weeping willow in the small garden, two toy soldiers and a picture of a whale, which I drew at nursery school when I was 4, under the incredulous gaze of a nun who was unaware that her admiring glance was to decide my life as a painter.
I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know today, what leads us to become an artist or a diplomat, a soldier or a scientist, but I know nature gives us all an equal chance at the beginning. I’m convinced wealth and poverty present no hurdle as long as we always possess our own soul wherever we are; and wherever we are, we can find a way to express the creativity that desperately yearns to emerge. It’s a question of inner attitude which goes beyond the weaknesses of vanity or the perversions of pride.
I’ve seen gifted artists living in abject poverty and in extreme luxury and I therefore feel I’m right in assuming that our fate lies simply in nature; it follows hidden paths, whether they be hostile or rewarding, which we cannot know beforehand. I had an inkling of this in the shade of my childhood willow. I received timorous confirmation in the loneliness forced on me by my introverted youth. It was not long before certainty arrived.
I remember trying to ignore the path my sensitivity was leading me towards. I tried in 1967 when, on winning a scholarship, inattentive to the drive of my imagination and yielding to my father’s prudent rationality, I began to study nuclear physics. My inquiring, curious nature meant I even enjoyed studying things so rational as to leave little space for my restless fantasies but it was no surprise when, a few months later, a creative stimulus which was becoming more and more difficult to hold back, led me to seek in artistic expression paths more suited to my skills.
I managed to gain entry to art college but, on finishing, the frustrating conviction that I hadn’t learned enough led me to paint incessantly to make up for lost time. Deciding to mine and fashion my “gold”, I drew cartoons, studied masterpieces, painted numerous portraits and anything else which might lead me to perfecting the form. When my hands had become creditable masters, I was extremely disappointed to discover there was no joy in this triumph. My hands knew “what” to do but not “why” to do it; they were able to give shape to what my heart was feeling but they didn’t know how to express emotions: I hadn’t learnt what * the great masters had taught; I hadn’t yet learnt to “listen short-sightedly to a growing blade of grass or a sleeping stone”. This soon brought about the inevitable, frustrating void of an unfertile imagination and with the patience of Job I had to learn to guide it according to the organic laws of art so that my soul might take wings and fly high enough to reach the uncertain borders of my thoughts. I attended the Academy of Fine Arts which instilled in me an overwhelming desire for knowledge. Plato, Aristotle and Pythagoras were the first stimulating readings in a new life cycle just as the study of mythology and religions were a happy accompaniment. With increasing difficulty I can still today discern between pleasure and duty, while awaiting the moment when I will be able to read within myself the book I’d like to read.
On the basis of this, in 1976, I faced public opinion in a multitude of collective and one-man exhibitions, enjoying widespread, sincere approval which often made me proud and confident I had given, at least to kindred spirits, the pleasure of seeing what my soul rejoiced at imagining transformed into shapes and colours.
A fruitful collaboration with the Renoir Art Centre in Taranto, Italy, (which lasted until my debut in America) enabled me, between one exhibition and the next, to arrive with creativity and economic serenity, in 1979, to bind my life to Viarda’s, my companion and wife who in 1982 gave me what at the time seemed the most precious thing in the world: Alessandro.
With his birth I discovered emotions that were to revolutionise the way I painted and I at last had a solid starting point. The eternal questions, whose answers were veiled in mystery, dissolved in the presence of that new uncontrollable emotion. A new chapter began in my still brief artistic itinerary. The violent, unknown emotions of that period were reflected in my choice of subjects and nothing seemed more worthy of being painted; life, death, time, the eternal antagonism of opposites became the usual subjects who took human form and peopled my boards.
When I felt ready to face the legendary America in 1985, I took part in my first Art-Expo in New York and, following this auspicious debut in which I sold everything within the first twenty minutes of the opening of the exhibition, I spent the rest of the show apologising for having no other works available.
Gratified by that flattering debut, I took part with equal fortune in the next two New York Art-Expos until, in 1987, the meeting with Robert Bane led to the show at the Tamara Bane Gallery in Los Angeles in 1988 and to which, considering its success, the ones in 1989 and 1990 were the natural sequel. The first consequence of the fine outcome of those years was the desire for a new house with a spacious studio and, a few months later, in one of those small towns where time is measured by the chimes of the church bells and where everyone calls each other by their first name, the project took shape. And it wasn’t the only one: by a pleasant twist of fate, after eight years of disappointed expectations, on 7 May 1990 the heavens, in a gesture of infinite goodwill, decided to deprive themselves of one of their most beautiful angels and we called her Margherita. There hasn’t been a day since her birth when her irresistible charm, enhanced by an even more enchanting smile, hasn’t brightened my daily restlessness.
In the new spacious studio, immersed in the rural peace of the countryside, I found it easy to give way to the changeable demands of my impatient creativity and never-satisfied temperament and it was thus that my painted disquiet found worthy residence in two one-man shows, one in 1991 and the other in 1993, at the Tamara Bane Gallery (with whom I worked exclusively from 1989 to 2001).
In February 1995 I then had the opportunity to exhibit my mosaics for the first time. I presented them in the Richardson Gallery in Reno (Nevada) and it was also there that I presented the fist giclée prints, available today in the most popular art galleries throughout the world. The following year (1996) I was offered the even more stimulating opportunity of measuring myself against the Japanese culture and this fantastic chance was given to me by the Harvest Gallery in Nagoya, Japan, where the unequalled welcome I received still remains a vivid memory today.
As confirmation that this was a year of excitement and stimulating experiences, in November 1996 the Tamara Bane Gallery, which had moved to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, chose to honour me by inaugurating the amazing gallery with a one-man exhibition. This experience was repeated in 1998 and certainly greatly influenced my artistic direction. As a consequence of inspiring, recurrent meetings with Playmates, pin-ups and models who were often at the gallery, bewitched by the charm of Californian beauty and guided by the direction the gallery was gradually taking, I couldn’t fail to be pleasantly overpowered by the interest that the female figure was firing in my creative enthusiasm. Becoming involved was a sweet surrender to which this book bears clear witness.
In 1999, the exquisite Collection Privée de Peinture et de Sculpture art gallery in Miami chose to host a one-man exhibition and it was a pleasant surprise to find my works side-by-side with some of the most talented artists of our time.
Not wanting to disappoint the stereotype that sees every 40-year-old in the throes of an existential crisis, I chose to ask myself the well-known, fateful questions which bring no solutions and the only consequence was my decision to take a long break from exhibiting which would allow me to focus more clearly on the necessary answers. It was during this search that in July 2001 I made the decision after 13 years to terminate my exclusive collaboration with the Tamara Bane Gallery. The consequent desire to at last allow myself an expressive freedom, devoid of the conditioning that expects the artist to be coherent and faithful to his formula, gave me new impulses and drove me, with greater determination, to proceed with proud certainty even in the face of doubts that the dual nature within us all often forces us to face.
Free from difficult and at times obscure symbolism, I gradually let myself be lured by the insidious forms of the female figure, whether they be an expression of elegiac beauty or bold femininity. Caught up in the outdated elegance of a dance which reminds us nostalgically of other times or in the daring brazenness of a proud Amazon with a suggestive gaze, the female figure is for me today a source and synthesis of barely hidden artistic satisfaction and of which this book, with which the mg/publisher has chosen to gratify me, is clear proof. But this is a recent story…'' Walter Girotto