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Critical review



2014, University of Wroclaw (PL)

Pubblication in volume 5/2014 of the annual journal "Italica 
Wratislaviensia, una Breslavia italiana", Wroclaw University, Poland.
Displays full publication (p. 25, * .PDF format) 
4 Paintings published in "Italica Wratislaviensia"



Review of Tullio Ceccato's painting written by Paolo Rizzi, a well-known art  critic in 1997

A few years ago I asked myself polemically - "Who's afraid of Monet?" Which is as much as to say: who is so psychologically (and ideologically) blocked as to reject, in painting the allure of nature? This was at a period when the historic vanguard were attempting their final assault. Tullio Ceccato, perched on the slopes near Asolo, one of the great good places of this earth, was already painting his fresh, luxuriant landscapes, radiant with light and colour. Should he have given in to the fashionable mannerisms of the day?  Should he have paid his homage to Conceptualism or art pauvre, Minimalism or Neo-Pop? In other words, should he have stifled his own natural impulses before the beauty of the Creation?

Unfortunately the history of art in this century reveals how artists, (yes, great  artists  too, from  Picasso to Bacon, from  Dali to Pollock) have violated nature: they  have  deformed, perverted, and  distorted it. The venture they were engaged upon was indeed a bold one: to abolish the rules governing the cosmos and replace them with Man's Promethean pride. Right up to 1968 and even afterwards, this enterprise constituted the core of a great many feats of expression. But it became increasingly evident that in this constant striving for effect, this linguistic exploration, this continual search for novelty, these lucubrations of intellect, the artist  could only ignore nature at the cost of lapsing into empty formalism or taking the contents to the very limits of exasperation.

Early every morning, Tullio Ceccato opens the window onto "his" world. There  before  him  he  sees  gentle  contours of the Asolan hills, the serene order of the countryside, with its harmonious colours, its radiant beauty. What is he to do? He has never had  the slightest doubt. His task has always been to gather together the separate details of this natural beauty and  put  them onto canvas, trying to preserve the genuineness of  the first impact, the freshness of  the emotions  it  arouses, the "splendour in  the grass", the "glory  in  the  flower". For thirty years Ceccato  has  continued  to  be, categorically, an  Impressionist:  his impressionism is very  close to  that of Monet – to what it has signified in historical terms; however, it is forever being renewed and revitalised by the artist's sensibility.

It is well worth putting it to the test. One can take a painting by Ceccato and observe  the countryside from  which  it  derives, comparing  the source  of  inspiration  and  the  result. I think  that many people – or at least  those  who  still believe that  painting ei plein air, the direct confrontation of  the artist  with his subject, has been superseded – would be forced to change their minds.The difference is enormous.The artist, if he is an artist, takes his cue from nature and without violating it, draws it into himself: which is to say, he interprets it. Maybe a certain shade of green or blue remains more or less the same; but one perceives – one must  perceive - the  animus  of  the artist who, in the  very act of love, traces things back to their deepest and most authentic "biological truth".

There is no  pretence, no  hypocrisy  about  Ceccato. One thing he will never renounce is his sincerity – a sincerity at all costs. Thus he strives to remain faithful to his instinct, to his nature. His art  simply mirrors this way of  being. It was born, one might  say, from  within as a  fully conscious form of expression. There is no straining, no act of will. This is perfectly clear when one admires the spontaneity of  his brushstrokes, the absence of afterthoughts or corrections, the fluidity with which the forms and colours are brought out. In this sense it is correct  to define him an Impressionist  painter: a follower of  Monet and  all  those artists (but how many are there in the story of painting?) that have approached nature with purity of heart, intent on transmitting its fragrant harmonies.

Painting  is, of course, also  a  technical  exercise: at  times  the  more impromptu it appears, the more arduous it actually is. This is the secret of  the Impressionists. Ceccato  has  done  his  training: he has looked and  looked  again, he  has often  travelled abroad; he  has  maintained contacts  with  other  painters, both in Italy and abroad. He grew up and still lives in Asolo, which is not only one of the most picturesque places in the world, but  also one of  the most  culturally rich. Nestling under its castle, the town is resonant  with Renaissance memories of  Caterina Cornaro and the "Asolani" of Pietro Bembo; Eleonora Duse lived there; it is close to  what was once (and in part still is) the celebrated park of Altivole; where modern architecture (Carlo Scarpa at San Vito)  reached one  of  its peaks of excellence; and many English  visitors  have contributed  to the renown of the area (Robert Browning, Freya Stark). It  was amid  this wealth  of culture that the young Ceccato was initiated into  ideal  painting. Above all, he  breathed  the  air  of  Giorgione  and Titian, with  the  added ingredient of  that curiously Tuscan atmosphere that characterises Asolo and its surroundings.

The occasion arose when, in 1969, he came into contact with a group of  American students who were following a painting course in Asolo. The teacher - he still remembers - was Jim Moon, a painter  from  New York. This was the first spark. From then on Ceccato continued to cultivate acquaintances with the finest foreign minds.The following year he met an English painter, Tom Walker, who became his friend and with whom he worked closely for about  three years, until 1973. They would go out into the hills and fields to paint, revelling in the brilliant colours of the landscape. Then he began his travels: first  to Austria (1978) and in particular  to Salzburg, prolonged stays in Holland, the United States, Canada, France, Sweden; and, of course, the  various  cycles of  views and  landscapes. Between 1982  and 1985  he  was  in constant  touch with  the  artistic  circles of  Milan, where  Ceccato met  the painter Dino Zampogna, whom  he regarded as a master. These experiences  were enriching from both cultural and social points of view. But it was in Asolo, his home, that his heart continued to beat most strongly.

Today  many  of  Tullio  Ceccato's paintings  are scattered  around  the world:  they  are  owned  by collectors  in New York and Paris, Salzburg and  Stockholm, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Milan and  Venice. It would  be  difficult, if  not  impossible, to  track them  all  down. He, their author, feels  a certain  nostalgia  for some  works he still  fondly recalls, but he possesses  photographs of all his works. Ceccato is fifty-one: he still  young  in  both body and spirit. For twenty years now he has been a truly  professional  painter: his  whole  house is an  atelier. But for all the experience  he  has  accumulated,  he  continues  to  look  forward  with enthusiasm. He has within him a form of genuineness (one might almost say ingenuousness) that acts as a stimulus: it sparks off  the enthusiasm he  still  feels, day  after  day, when he observes  the  wonders of nature. May  he  never  lose  this!  The true  artist, Nietzsche  observed, is not  a  traveller  who plans  each journey, but  a  wanderer  who remains curious about  the  world  and discovers its marvels at every step of the  way.

This is why in his Asolo studio the subjects of the neighbouring countryside and  the hills return over and over again; they remain the centre of Ceccato's thematic interests. And every time they are repeated they are different. Looking around myself I can see dozens, maybe hundreds, of paintings, but I have never seen two alike. The viewpoint  may be the same:  the same  trees, houses, the distant  shape of the castle. However,  the spirit  that  pervades the  painting is  always different: in one work it is bright and vigorous, in another gentler and more contemplative; here it is almost Dionysiac, there subtly  Apollinean; here tonal, there pitched; here agitated and bristling, there frozen in a rapt immobility. The  colours  vary, ranging  from fragrance to extremes of softness; the layout  itself  changes, shifting, from a melodic "descant" to an impetuous  game  of  counterpoints;  the ductus  of  the  brushstrokes varies, though never losing  its impromptu freshness. In short, every   single picture is a  world of its own; it practically becomes an identikit of the author. This – I believe – is  the true quality of the impressionist painter, who transfers his own psychological and emotional motility  to nature.

But in any assessment of Ceccato there is one essential point that must be remembered: the fact that he belongs, even in his earliest memories, to the artistic culture of the Veneto region. That rural, elegiac, almost Virgilian spirit that has often been remarked upon derives from his profound immersion in a pictorial tradition centred not only on Asolo and its hills but the whole of  the region. The very air  here  is redolent of the atmospheric suavity of  Giorgione, the  chromatic  modulations of Titian; a glance at the sky suffices to recall  the celestial clarity of Tiepolo. It is a culture  that  is  deeply  rooted  in  the  soil: it is still alive today, finding original  expression  in  artists  who  have  only  recently left us, such as Carlo Dalla Zorza and Gigi Candiani, Nino Springolo and Nando Coletti. The key to the paintings of the great Old Masters lies essentially in their light, airy  adoption  of  a  symphonic  colour; for centuries this  was the hallmark of the Venetian style, which spread throughout Europe, affecting such different masters as Rubens and Renoir. This desire to "sing with colour" derives essentially from the gentleness of the area, whether it be the opalescent languor of the lagoon or the mild contours of Asolo. Ceccato, in  one  direction  looks to  the great culture of the past; in another he looks to the natural landscape that surrounds him.

It is worth repeating what has already been said: Ceccato's painting has not changed  register  for over twenty years. There is the same airiness, the  same  freshness. The silvery foliage of  the birch-trees  rustles and quivers; the hues of the long meadows change according to the hour of the  day; the simple rustic houses are integrated into the landscape, like Palladian  villas; the hills undulate in harmony across the canvas. Man is absent  in  purely  figurative  terms, but  his presence hovers over all of these landscapes: in these works man can be said to have understood, even  in  this  age  of  pollution, the necessity of an accord, a symbiosis with the environment. This elegiac "tone" is present also in the paintings of  foreign  or Italian cities, in  the  brilliant  views  of  Venice, in  the rare portraits, the flowers, the dolls, the still-lifes. Everything, even the "local colour", is  subdued  and  reduced  to  the  gentle  dimensions  of  the Veneto.  And  his  technique  ranges  from  oils  to  watercolours and to pastels. If  anything, one  can  detect  a  certain  development (and  a comparison between recent and less recent works makes this clear) in the frankness with which the colours are orchestrated symphonically. In the early works the artist seemed almost intimidated and played on the tones; later, having assumed full control of his interpretative skills, he began to employ the full range of the palette in a series of loose and increasingly "sonorous" variations. Essentially, it is as if his art  were following  the steady progress of Vivaldi's  music, the rich vein of Venetian classicism.






Il Gazzettino di Venezia

Il Giornale di Vicenza

L'Arena di Verona

La Tribuna di Treviso

La Nuova Venezia

La Vita del Popolo

Asolo Notizie

Periodico "CIGA Magazine"

Metro of Stockholm

Swea Bladet (Stockholm)

Fin Viikkoviesti  (Stockholm)

Svenskadagbladet  (Stockholm)

Gazeta  Wyborcza ( Wroclaw, Poland)



Art catalogues 


Unedi Catalogo, Artisti Veneto, 1979.

Catalogo Arte contemporanea italiana, Veneto Emilia, 1987. (Catalogne of the Contemporary Italian Art)

Arteoggi Cidac, 1991.

Top Arts, 1994.

Catalogo "Pittori e scultori di importanza europea, 1998", ed. Il Quadrato. (Catalogue “Painters and sculptors of Eurpean Importance, 1998”

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Contact the artist  Tullio Ceccato
 Mobile phone   3349995386

Contatta l'artista  Tullio Ceccato
Cellulare   3349995386