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The fact that Italo Tomassi had a natural bent for graphic art has been understood up until 1916 when, during his first year of school, copying on his exercise book vowels written on the blackboard by his teacher, utilizing his left hand he wrote backwards. The teacher was so amused that she didn’t correct him; on the contrary she invited him to write only on one side of the paper of his exercise book in order to read it against the light on the window pane.
In the second year of school, he was taught to write with his right hand and in the correct way, and from this time on, for the rest of his life, he became ambidextrous and acquired the skill to draw or write in specular way.
Therefore he began to express himself with precocious talent and when he entered the “San Michele a Ripa” Institute in the third class, the teachers were so impressed for the way he drew a horse that they thought it has been done by a student of the higher classes.
After having put him to the test of making various drawings, the teachers utilized his qualities to get advantage in some of their little works.
His artistic studies were of course influenced by his teachers: Quirino Angeletti who was teaching Architectonic design and scenography, Oreste Amiconi, Rodolfo Villani, Enrico Ortolani and Silvio Galimberti who were teaching painting and decoration techniques. The excellent master-ship of drawing, utilization of colours and different techniques brought him to express himself in the “Academic way” for years.
Reality was not modified or interpreted by his imagination, but sublimated by his feelings.
The experience of a tragic childhood, of adolescence tough and hard-fought, passed through a catharsis which generated works of great emotional impact, such as “Cain”, “Flood”, and “Contempt”. It was like transferring his anxieties, his sorrows and his disappointments into his works in order to get rid of them.
From this moment on he was ready to the rebirth: the meeting with his beloved woman, the wedding, the birth of his daughter brought him sweetness and hope in life. Therefore, his paint brush generated some Raphaelesque Madonna, landscapes, horses running free in the open air…
The cinema world has been the other aspect that modified, little by little, his artistic “academic” style and freed his imagination.
Meeting with Federico Fellini has been essential both for his cinematographic career and painting production. A new way of painting, that himself defined as “conceptual”. His thoughts, his dreams, his fantasy were translated into warm colour paintings, where more or less clear symbols were acting as underlying themes.
Italo Tomassi enjoyed himself in showing those paintings to Federico Fellini and asking him to guess the titles. Fellini didn’t disappoint him giving always the correct interpretation of the paintings.
Various critics talked about his works, in occasion of the exhibitions – Among those:
Aldo Galvani: ”Strong assertor of that painting which expresses itself through real and actual elements, of that painting which obliges to an always deeper analysis of the subject, he never took distance from the living and human reality. Actually, in the exposed works of the period 1949 – 1956, it appears evident and incessant, the wish of an introspective study, present and unchanged also in the landscapes, which is summed ups into the set of the psychological studies”.
Luisa Fornari: “His art results almost spontaneously from the broad back-ground of the scenographic works, supported by a transparent and intense colour: it would appear as to liven up and interpret the architectural construction of an almost out-of –time Rome, as in the painting “town at twilight”, where the passer-byes are only splashes of colour in comparison with the master by architectonic reconstruction of the town”
In 1985, due to some heart disease, he decides to leave his cinematographic activity and exclusively dedicates himself to painting.
Maybe age (he was 75), perhaps being away from the studios and from the phantasmagorical world of cinema, leads him to an exasperated accentuation of his expressiveness. A whole series of hyper-realistic watercolours arise. The scrupulous care of details, the exaggerated employment of colours too bright, produce in those last works the effect of a cinematographic reality.