Portrait of the Painter in the Rays of the Sicilian Sun

Mario Tornello Mario Tornello was born in Palermo. He spent his childhood and youth in the capital of Sicily and in the neighbouring Bagheria. The feeling of Sicily, inborn in him, is apparent in all the aspects of his art. Colours, odours, sounds, Sicilian legends and narratives, which are the aggregate of the mixture of many cultures characterizing the island, were perceived by the artist in a particular way and he reproduced them on canvasses and on paper with the force of his imagination.

Mario Tornello has a many-sided personality. First of all, it seems to me, that he sees the world with the eyes of an artist-painter. Critics, who write about him, noticed the spontaneity of his creativeness. Another characteristic of his artistic itinerary is to proceed by phases so as to deal with the most varied subjects, to elaborate and improve them, ever continuing to look for new themes, subjects and images to reproduce in his works.

In spite of the clear domination of the Sicilian theme permeating all his work, the range of his personality goes beyond the regional setting of his origin. The many-sidedness of Mario Tornello’s painting also extends to other spheres of his creative activity. It is possible that the wish to express himself in a global way, to transmit differently the images he had in mind in the 60’s, “compelled” him to resort to poetry which, undoubtedly, is in part a supplement and a “continuum” of his painting, and in part reveals new aspects of the depth of his being. In poetry too, by means of a literary language, he again tries to express his unbridled and consuming love for Sicily, the enchanted land of his childhood where his “adolescent dreams chased one another like swallows around a belfry” and “where he wanted to live and die”.

Some remarks should be added as to his prose which appeared in the 80’s and in which he revealed himself to be even more Sicilian than in the other two activities. Here too, Tornello remains true to himself attempting various manners. He writes essays on the History and Culture of Sicily and stories of its recent past, witnessed by him, and poetic sketches (like dreams of childhood!) in which the figures of relatives and friends reach a national importance, while the poetic beauty of his land acquires almost universal characteristics.

When studying the many-sided and unusual creative world of Mario Tornello, one is impressed by the range and the personality closely related to the culture of his country, his place of birth and simultaneously his being capable of rising to the universal comprehensiveness of the human being, to the height of the human spirit.

Translated from Italian by Assia Boutskoy