The art of calligraphy has more and more followers. The fact, in increasingly digital times, intrigues us and fascinates us at the same time. This is why we talk about it with Teo Palatella, a painter, ceramist but especially calligrapher in Vieste whom we met in Vico del Gargano for an interesting interview done in the Studio 28mm of Pasquale D’Apolito who kindly hosted us.
The art of calligraphy
How was your passion for calligraphy born?
Since I was a child I loved to draw and when I learned to write I dedicated myself to calligraphy with appreciable surprise from the elementary school teachers I attended: I liked my harmonic and linear writing and sometimes even decorative.
What did you like to draw?
I spent summers at a family boathouse at the port and spent my days there illustrating the boats: ships, fishing boats, trawlers and sailboats became the subjects of my pen representations. And always in pen, I brought back the name of the boat. This aspect has become more and more important over time through the choice of the font and the positioning of the name of the vessel, the object of my research increasingly in-depth with the passion for the study of letters.
Where did this route lead you?
From 1986 to 1994 I made about 2000 drawings including watercolors, illustrations, chine and tempera paintings. At the beginning of the nineties, my design was chosen as the logo of the “Rally of Peace” that took place in Vieste. The original illustration was made on paper and then printed on 5000 leaflets distributed throughout the diocese striking for the visual immediacy of the logo: a handshake on a blue background. From that moment on I made various sets for different parish and school recitals and also many flags and banners for the group of supporters who follow the local soccer team. In the late nineties I also participated in the construction of some murals in the cities of Vieste, Civitanova Marche, Taranto and Macerata, signing my works with the tag “Joker”. After completing my scientific studies I started working as a salesman following in the footsteps of my father Gaetano, first in the confectionery sector and then in a retail store of silverware, furnishing accessories and high-end wedding favors.
So you moved away for a while from your real passion?
Yes, but in 2008 I resumed studying painting and I made several paintings of landscape character starting to outline what is my current painting style, clean and harmonious, based on the creation of marine and landscapes. In the paintings never appear human figures and scenes of life but only glimpses and panoramas.
How do you explain this choice?
These absences characterize a pictorial research that favors scenarios that are not contaminated by the presence of man but rather by his architectural works only and exclusively if they are in harmony with nature. With this intention the series of 100 watercolors called “Cento Città” was born, in which I illustrated a hundred cities overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
When it is born Artigianato Mediterraneo, the workshop in the historic center of Vieste, where we met exactly a year ago?
In 2011 I wanted to change my life by voluntarily abandoning the profession of salesman to devote myself full time to managing the retail business by transferring it to the old town where I began to offer handmade articles in terracotta and ceramics revisited in a modern way: I have thus faced the world of crafts for the first time. This is why I chose the name “Artigianato Mediterraneo”, which is strongly linked to the Mediterranean matrix of the colors that predominate over my creations inspired by travels in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean in general.
When we met in Vieste you promised that you would eliminate any chinoiserie to only sell craft lines. Promise kept?
Yes. The shop is now an artisan store and the products for sale are self-produced, original and made in Italy. I have also experimented with stylistic solutions combining design with not only elements such as decoration, calligraphy and lettering but also new materials such as Apricena stone, Trani stone, Volterra alabaster, porcelain stoneware, lava stone and Murano’s glass.
For this reason, at the end of 2015 I wanted to attend the course of artistic ceramics in Deruta at the Goretti studio, where I learned how to decorate and cook local majolica. From these studies were born colorful, modern and original products that are particularly appreciated by my customers who often also require customized versions.
Could you call yourself a legacy?
A legacy no, but a nephew, yes, because my uncle Domenico Palatella was an impressionist painter of the most prolific and well-known of the entire territory of Gargano, although he died prematurely in the course of his career about fifty personal exhibitions and the realization of about a thousand oil paintings from the seventies to the first decade of the millennium. I wanted to follow in his footsteps even with my own techniques due to the knowledge of Mark Felhman, American impressionist painter specializing in painting en plein air that gave me a brush pen and a set of colors with which I made several watercolors, exposed also in the painting exhibition “Portarte” where I was personally invited by the artist and teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts of Foggia Michele Circiello.
And now what techniques do you use?
I have experimented with an innovative pictorial technique that does not require the use of traditional tools since the color is laid out through a series of small, handcrafted saccapoche that leave out lines of fluid and pearly color. The result is a dynamic and lively illustration.
And your calligraphy meeting when it happens?
In January 2017 I attended a course in Benevento where I learned the secrets of medieval calligraphy and I transcribed several written in the Lombard language using goose feathers, bamboo nibs, artisan inks and vintage scrolls. And since February of the same year I started a permanent collaboration as a calligrapher and decorator at the graphic design studio FD Creative of Vieste completing several graphic and artistic projects.
What are your future projects?
In January I designed the graphic icons for the cosmetics line made in Puglia “Aquapulia” in collaboration with the graphic designer J. Toniolo. And I’m currently dealing with two projects. The first involves the creation in collaboration with the marketing consultant Sante Calderisi of a web platform where we will propose lines of products of high artistic craftsmanship as hand-painted favors numbered and customized. The second is to organize live calligraphic performances at the 28mm photo studio in Vico del Gargano in collaboration with the photographer Pasquale D’Apolito, who hosted us for our meeting.
Corso Umberto I, 4 – Vieste
Info: +39 345 6121346