It is not easy to describe the role of art in the life of Elio Mariucci, his house is a kind of museum in which the works of art blend with creations by other artists, many of whom are his friends, and of objects collected throughout the years; in every detail a memory hides. Besides painting, sculpting and his special furniture, Elio has been involved in drama and recently in poetry, but his first love remains the paint brush and it is a passion that was born many years ago.
by Claudia Belli
«In first grade, at Christmas time of year 1952, I was given a pencil case with a zipper, up to then I had only seen the wooden ones with the lid that would slide off. Opening my new pencil case all the colors came out, there was a compass too and I had a flash of inspiration, I was struck like Saint Paul on the way to Damascus. I was so happy that in that moment I decided that in my life I would have been a painter».
Craftsmanship plays an important role in Elio’s artistic path as well, his colorful furniture are something more than simple dressers, they have unusual shapes and sometimes they become real and true characters.
«I’ve always painted but after finishing school I worked in a lithography office and it was a situation that felt too tight for me: after 13 years I left without knowing what I would have done afterward. Luckily my brothers-in-law were already carpenters and I managed to resist four whole days, then I opened my own business and in the meantime I would look for old furniture at the antiques market in Arezzo to take them apart and put them back together the way I wanted. So I started a furniture renovation business and little by little I began to introduce color, until I started to decorate my first pieces of furniture».
So at the beginning the old furniture found a new life, but little by little other small objects as well are becoming part of a way to conceive the use of things:
«The idea of recycling has always fascinating me and comes from another part of my life. I used to live in a really big building with an enormous attic full of old things where I used to spend a lot of time, trying to assemble unlikely pieces trying to give them an identity and a soul back. I was fascinated by all that, so much that today I still recycle objects, even in dumpsters: I have come to realize that people throw away extraordinary things!».
This intense creative drive finds even more strength in your collaborations, in particular the one with a very special group of artists.
«Yes it’s the 13×3 group which was born in 1978 to give strength to some theories, to a movement. The name is an acronym that takes its inspiration from our first poster which represents a blown up picture of a paint brush whose measurements were 13×3 centimeters. There were already many very good painters in Città di Castello with whom we started, some of them have continued on their own way, while I, Gino Meoni, Corrado Ottaviani and Piero Pellegrini continued on together until Piero’s death, who was the theorist of the group.
Then Ottaviani died as well and the group had no reason to exist anymore. A few years ago we started the group Artefare, which other artists from Città di Castello belong to».
Even within household walls real working groups can be started, in the case of the Mariucci family it is something more than an occasional collaboration.
«The furniture lab, that sadly doesn’t exist anymore, was carried on by me and my wife Manuela, then our daughter Veronica joined in on it as well. My main collaboration is with my wife, with whom I have confrontations, even in a curt way, but she is the one that often, in her calm way brings me back on the right track».
Elio has had the chance to work abroad on many occasions, and it has not been difficult to sense that in Italy there’s still little openness towards contemporary art …
«Since the exibition in Frankfurt with 13×3 I’ve sensed a huge difference. In Germany since post-war they have gotten their youth used to contemporary art, while here at the most we lightly touch on Futurism and don’t go any further. Three years ago we did a beautiful project for the school of Nuremberg where they were teaching mineral therapy: among the other things we built a big wardrobe for them, shaped like a rock and inside it we painted a meadow in bloom».
While he’s already preparing a new project for a gallery in Frankfurt, in the kitchen Elio prefers to serve something from the Italian tradition: the fabulous tomato mush in the Umbrian version.
«There are three reasons why I’ve decided to prepare this dish: the first reason is that I love red, the second reason is because it’s a simple and quick recipe while the third important reason is represented by the main ingredient which is stale bread, something to reuse».
you can follow Elio on: facebook/eliomariucci
ELIO’S TOMATO PORRIDGE
The dices of stale bread are toasted in the oven, cut in
precise dices, and softened in scallion melted in boiling
oil and veggie broth. Then you add tomato sauce
until you reach the typical consistence of
the mush. Elio prepares everything
very precisely and with the attention
typical of those who are not used
to being in the kitchen, maybe
this is why Manuela watches
upon every step trying to help
him and causing those lovely
squabbles that characterize the
daily life of long time couples
and that probably are part of
their artistic bond as well as their
marital one. Maybe this is also why
in the flavor you can feel the simple
and reassuring taste of daily things, the
geometrical and colorful presentation though
it has very little traditional in it and is completely a
work of the abstract artist, up to the last brush of basil.