It’s a year today since dear Aleardo Paolucci passed away and it’s only now that I can dedicate a humble blog to a wonderful man and a beautiful painter. I was introduced to Aleardo by his son Enrico (also an artist) in 1997 and have become almost one of the family. His works of art are everywhere in Pienza (Southern Tuscany) and beyond. Some paintings are even in Australia thanks to introducing him to my tour groups, who loved their visit.
Every painting tells are story, highlighting historical events, old farming lifestyles or topical issues. He was prolific, happily spending every day in his studio, working on projects or decorating his beloved Beccacervello ( Pick my Brain) property just outside of Pienza.
Born in 1927, he lived through the fascist period with many stories to tell, and spent most of his life as an Art teacher in Montepulciano. Very early in his career he was commissioned to do the frescoe above the door leading into Pienza. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary as a prayer to save the town from any further bombing which it had suffered during WW11. So do look up as you walk through the town’s entrance. He was lucky to have seen the restoration of the frescoe completed 2 years ago, as exposure to the weather had severely damaged it.
He was such a kind hearted man, with a great sense of humour, touching my heart and soul every time we met. We shared the same political ideas and often laughed over a satire program we both loved, not easy as he was fairly deaf so the conversations would often go quite astray!
His concern for his beloved Pienza and Val d’Orcia appears often in his paintings as do his concerns for migrants, the new technology taking people away from human communication, alongside national and local scandals of corruption and mismanagement and the current economic crisis.
He was very active in his community, organising fund-raising for AVIS (the blood donors association, not the rental car company!) enlisting Artists from far and wide to contribute works for auction. The local district flags and large banner on the gateway entrance for the various festivals in Pienza have all been done by Aleardo and will continue to wave their welcome to both tourists and locals.
He was honoured to paint 3 of the ‘Palio’ banners for the famous horse race in Siena and commissioned to design a postal stamp in the series promoting tourism. For the 600th anniversary of Pope Pius 11 he created 50 beautiful works of art on his life story which are truly amazing.
His warmth and sensitivity abounds in his paintings as in his daily life. He constantly reflected on the changing values of today’s world, more from a pragmatic viewpoint than a nostalgic one as he had lived through some very hard years.
As always, behind every great man there is a great woman. Isabella, his wife, had been by his side forever, and understandably her life crashed around her on his parting. For those that met her, you will be pleased to hear that she is coping better now and always delighted to see me.
Fortunately I decided to buy a painting a few years back where Aleardo wrote such a long dedication on the back that I would love to display both sides. The widow is thinking back on her farm life with her husband. I love her portrait as she is so beautifully ugly and her husband dressed in the typical Sunday best waistcoat.
My favourite which Aleardo would never sell: The monster, half fish and fowl, is eating the beautiful landscape where the young couple dreamed of buying their own home – refers to the corruption scandal at Montecchiello where a new urban development was to be built next to the medieval walled village.
I miss him, together with so many others, and today will be another sad day of mourning.