MY FATHER, FRANCO BERALDO - by Michele Beraldo

 
 


When he was a child, my father left a small town in the Venetian countryside, where he was born in 1944, and moved with his parents to Mestre, an industrial city that was beginning to surround the water, still clean in that time, of the Venice Lagoon with desolating factory outskirts. For a long time he longed for Meolo, though finding consolation in the enduring memory of the time spent in contact with nature, fields and life far from town.
He was a boy when he soon began painting by copying, as if it were necessary for him, the sacred Byzantine iconographies on wooden boards.
He later came to a personal artistic expression by regularly attending the studio of an elderly Venetian painter, Guido Carrer, whose clear painting and wise use of light would affect my father’s conversion so much, when he decided to stop with old-style icons and become a painter, beside managing an art gallery.
As a child I would run across the rooms of the big gallery that today is his studio and atelier, and my greatest pleasure was to plunge headlong into a large couch in the middle of the room, where my mother used to sit with a cigarette in her fingers, while my father, annoyed by my plays, planned to get rid of – as he eventually did – that 70s bulky cumbersome that was not only my merry-go-round but also my brother’s.
Summers were spent in Sardinia, before it became a favourite holiday destination for VIP tourism; on the beach you could count the people, more or less the same number that entered my father’s gallery to see Rauschenberg’s works and American Pop Art. Opposite us Tavolara Island, which with the time turned out to be an archetype element in Beraldo’s landscape painting, a lonely and glacial island with no trees, far off a beach whose clear and slowly degrading sea lapped and mirrored in the distance.
From that island, which resembled so much to an adrift iceberg, my father left for Copenhagen, as he had been invited to exhibit his works in the mid 80s at the Italian Institute for Culture in Denmark. He had been recommended by an elderly lady, a translator of Italian theatre works into Danish, who had been impressed, when in Italy, by the Mediterranean radiance expressed by a still young Venetian artist in his paintings. Of that period, the long journey, the stay and the long-awaited return, I remember a table-tennis bat made in Denmark and the image of the white long hair of my father’s works’ admirer, looking like a sweet old lady in Andersen’s fairy tales.

There were other summers in Sicily, a place where still today during the summer solstice my father keeps seeking for his mythical and classical Ithaca, like a modern Ulisses, imaging it somewhere far off Tindari, between Vulcano and Lipari.
One day, when most part of the gallery had already been sacrificed in the studio, I found a man who was handling a trowel and a laying-on trowel as if he were plastering the wall. He was, as I got to know only later, the painter Paolo Scarpa, an assistant in Bruno Saetti’s studio, who was teaching my father the difficult art of fresco technique, like an expert, good elf. Since that period Beraldo dressed his images, already personal and recognizable, with the most classic and ancient technique of “good fresco”. If I have to choose among the numerous exhibitions in Italy as well as in many European cities, among the various awards and recognitions of critics for my father’s painting, in these few biographical lines I gladly remember the emotion felt for the Burano prize my father received for his painting in 1981.