We meet Leon Marino in his atelier in Troia, a sort of cave full of paintings, amulets and memories of his travels around the world, placed in perfect order on shelves and walls.
In Troia guests of Leon Marino
It is inevitable to start our chat, starting from the pictures we have around us. Thus Leon begins by saying that art must always be explained. Not only the abstract, but also the figurative one in order to make a comparison between the then, ie the moment in which a work is realized, and today.
With his simple and direct way he invites us to think of Caravaggio and his contemporaneity, not because of his way of painting but on the protagonists of his paintings. And he adds: cutting someone’s head is a cultural fact, deeply linked to the Mediterranean area. Present in the Bible and today re-proposed, unfortunately, by ISIS. This shows us that it is always possible to compare art, even far from us as a period, with contemporaneity.
After this premise, which makes us better understand the personality of the artist who for eighteen years has taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brera, we get comfortable and Leon begins to explain, one after another, his paintings.
While he “tells” them we understand that for Leon painting is inextricably linked and amalgamated with poetry. And this is evident from the reading of the titles of his works.
The first that illustrates us is entitled “Via Crucis”: here the protagonist in the center of the large canvas is a cross placed on a very slow snail that symbolizes the life of man made of falls and relapses, but also the culture that with a slow process but gradually reaches its goal.
Reduced on the surface but strongly symbolic the painting called “Until death does not separate you” in which a mafioso is depicted, with cap and lupara service. “As always – tells us the “Mediterranean painter” as has often been defined – the language of the mafia has been superimposed and inspired by that of the church and in this picture emerges the irony of a sentence of the sacred bond of marriage linked to shady characters who are brothers in blood, swearing eternal loyalty”.
Moreover, he considers himself an “ironist” and precisely the pungent irony is at the base of all his works that, colored and with simple traits, convey a great joy of life.
There are two things that excited me when I had the pleasure of meeting Leon six years ago in his “cave” dressed in art and poetry, in Piazza Leppe in Troia. The first concerns dreams: Leon Marino continually talks about dreams, emphasizing that there is no age to stop dreaming.
The second is his profound respect for the feminine being, the ancient respect that men of all latitudes reserved for the mother goddess, parent of all things. In his colorful works, full of inspiration and irony, there are many women protagonists wrapped in black shawls or reproduced in the form of soft and gentle round mountains, the ones he admires from his shop in the Monti Dauni around his Troia that he never wanted to leave.
Also this time, looking around, we enter the artist’s world inhabited by thorns hearts, crosses and angels. These are the other protagonists of the paintings: angels that count the stars, angels who are unemployed, angels who lose the bow with which they must hit the hearts of lovers. For a continuous hymn to love lived or dreamed, because even the angels dream – he adds convinced.
We ask him what his last works are. He leads us to the other room of his hermit cave as he calls his studio: a large desk stands in the middle while on the walls there are paintings of considerable size all turned towards the wall.
This is the place of the “infinites”, never finished pictures, made and redone, designed and canceled. As long as Leon is not convinced of the result, he does not give life to a painting: the canvas remains white because “it is the work itself that tells you «change me, or delete me”».
And so today Leon looks so much like that snail on his canvas slow but determined, which walks without ever turning his head or antennae, towards his goal, because slowness must be considered a value as it allows to ponder.
“The important thing is to believe in it: knowing how to wait patiently for events, because everything is revealed”. And we find ourselves feeling a little ‘snails too.