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The English painter Graham Dean creates «beautiful models, athletes, crazy bondage enthusiasts, identical twins, people with skin imperfections» using their bodies as «vehicles of expression»[1]. Through his stunning and innovative watercolours, he narrates emotions, ideas and memories, playing with colour contrasts and multiple layers. Looking at his reds, we can easily imagine the brightness of India, but we can barely imagine that he could be inspired also by Umbria.

 

It was 1992 when Graham Dean, born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, came to Italy to spend six months at the British School in Rome. He won a prestigious art award – the Senior Abbey Award in Painting – and he had the possibility to live for a while in the residential institution of the British School and to visit Rome and the cities nearby. From that moment on, Italy got under his skin.
During his many visits out of Rome, Graham went to the well-known town of Assisi and then, on his way back, he stopped in a village near lake Trasimeno.
«I didn’t know anything about Umbria and I was taken aback by the lake and its surroundings, wondering why that place was such a secret. Why didn’t more people know about this place?» states Graham. «Back in Rome, I vowed that one day I would return to buy a house and, if possible, a studio».

 

 

It was just the beginning: Graham Dean, who has made a lot of solo exhibitions all over the world, got struck by Umbria’s and now, he owns a studio-house between Migliano and San Vito, about 15 minutes out of Marsciano. He visits the house, surrounded by fields and the river Fersinone, about five or six times a year.
«I work on projects in the studio or on ideas. I found an enormous time to think and reflect. I have found, over the fifteen years I own the house in Migliano, that is the only one environment where I can completely relax in. There is an atmosphere that is difficult to describe unless you experience it, but everyone who visits says the same thing. I’m trying not to view through rose tinted glasses, as I know it can be economically harder for people to make a good living, especially for the young».
As a painter of the human body, Graham Dean has found that he’s slowing turning his attention towards the idea of landscape and the sense of other that he and his friends experience at the house. He feels like Umbria is a new territory for him to explore.

What would it be his next step? He would like to put on a large showing of his work in Umbria and he’s still waiting to be asked! Even though a number of younger painters wanted to show him, the authorities didn’t, so it slowly came to a halt. But who knows? We bet that sooner o later you will see Graham Dean’s large paintings in one of the Umbrian museums.

 


Sources:     www.grahamdean.com

 

[1] Adapted from an article by Galerie Maubert, Paris. September 2011, in http://grahamdean.com/about/

 «The game that satisfied me the most? The one in favor of the people of Norcia hit by the earthquake».

More than two hundred matches in A Series, international referee since 2007 – 2017 was his last season because he reached age limits – seventeen years of activity with the debut in the top flight in 2003 and Élite Uefa referee since 2012. These are the numbers of Paolo Tagliavento, the most representative whistle in Umbria and beyond. During the game, he is strict, in order to guide the twenty-two players; on the contrary, with us he is easy-going and kind. He is an Umbrian proud of his land.

 

Paolo Tagliavento

What is your bond with Umbria and with Terni?
It is a very strong bond, because I was born in Terni, I grown up there and I still live there. I love my region and I am very fond of the people I have lived with and who have been part of my childhood.

Do you think that Umbria is a region that is “out of the game”, cut off from other realities?
For the position it has, it’s a bit cut off because of its infrastructures. For example, I often use the car for my travels. Fiumicino is not far, so I also take the plane when I leave far away, while the train is not really comfortable. In some ways, being a little out of nowhere can be an advantage, because you can experience peace and tranquility.

If Umbria was a football rule, what would it be?
The edge. Which is a special rule: when you apply it makes the game more bearable. The edge of Umbria is in its landscapes, food and life.

Is there a game that you always wanted to referee but you has not done yet?
I could say the final of the World Cup, because it is the dream of any referee and few people get there. Instead, I will tell you the game that satisfied me the most: a charity game after the earthquake of 2016, which was held in Norcia between actors and civil protection personnel. It was something concrete for Umbria and it made me very proud.

The Umbrians are accused of being narrow-minded, do you recognize yourself in this stereotype?
No, it never happened to me. Perhaps in the northern part of Umbria they are more narrow minded than Terni, which is influenced by the Roman way of living.

Are there in Umbria young referees who could reach your level?
There is an excellent school of arbitration assistants, who have reached good levels. As for the referees in the Lega Pro and Series D there is someone for it could make their way.

What would you recommend?
I would advise him to give its best, always. To have passion and to make sacrifices, because only in this way we can reach these levels. Passion is the driving force, but it is not enough. It also takes commitment and hunger to reach the goal. This profession should be put a little in front of everything. The funnel is very tight and few come in the A series. But I would also recommend to have fun and enjoy.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Beautiful, unique, open-minded.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
Serenity.

«The earthquake told by the media was a real fake news for Umbria. It was a real damage».

Matteo Grandi

 

Journalist, writer, TV author. Matteo Grandi is of all this. But above all, he is an attentive observer of Umbria: with his posts on social networks, he acts like someone who really loves somebody else. A land that he defines unique, but in search of an identity.

What is your bond with Umbria and Perugia?

Affectively , is vet tight. In Perugia there is my home and my main business. Although I am often away, so I could not enjoy my places and my habits as much as I would.

As a communicator, how could Umbria communicate better and make its potential and its beauties known?

It is not a question that can be answered easily. We need a strategy, a plan upstream that can enhance our land’s differences; Umbria has got an extraordinary artistic and cultural heritage, a unique natural landscape and a peculiar mysticism. But it is also characterized by dynamism, especially for cultural manifestations, its old houses and cashmere paths, and for its excellent agri-food products and wines.

On what should it bet?
On its uniqueness, no doubt.

With your book “Far Web”, you face the fake news’ issue: what is the biggest one told on Umbria? If there is?

The one conveyed by all the mainstream media on the earthquake. Umbria has been hit in a very small part, albeit dramatically. Yet for months, newspapers and newscasts have done nothing but tell and talk about an earthquake Umbria. This bad information has damaged our image and our tourism in an incredible way.

From the outside, Umbria is seen as a happy oasis by many, but the reality is different: this could be considered as fake news?

I think Umbria is a happy island in search of identity. We say that more than a fake news we could consider it as a declaration of intent.

Of course, it has got some good points, too…

Quality of life, like few other regions in Italy.

Editor-in-chief, TV author, writer: what is the job you like the most?

More than a job, an act: the one of writing. In any form. I do not know if it’s the thing that suits me the best, but it’s definitely the one I like the most and that is no coincidence that it is the common denominator for all the things I do.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Unique, intriguing, green.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

It should be better connected: roads, trains and airports. On the transport front, if we want to make the leap in quality.

«Before starting to paint, I write MaMo all over the canvas. It is my habit, a form of superstition. I’ve always done it.»

Gianni Agnelli

 

Massimiliano Donnati, aka MaMo, is a polyhedral and certainly ironic artist from Perugia. He realizes his paintings using different materials and manages to put on canvas the characters as they appear in his imagination, without taboos and censorship. In his first solo show Incoscienza dell’essere – Ironia in 3D, visible at the Artemisia gallery in Perugia until January 13th, you will find Onella Vanoni, Queen Elizabeth, Gianni Agnelli, ET and King Carlo of Bourbons represented as MaMo sees them, as he perceives them.

How did the idea of ​​creating these works come about?
I cannot give a rational explanation, I have always observed the world and people with a critical eye, attentive to every detail, and with great irony. Only recently I felt the need to pull off these emotions, it is from March 2017 that I started this experience, and I managed to represent real people or fantasy characters as I have always seen or imagined. Unconsciously I managed to pull out that that was inside of me.

Why do you use a mix of materials? Why didn’t you choose one in particular?
I am self-taught and I am free from schools and academies, so I use everything I have. I apply all the techniques, without any link.

Can you explain to me the choice of your subjects?
It happens randomly, based on what goes through my mind. ET is a character to which I am very fond of, Gianluca Vacchi because it is on everyone’s mouths. I represented the Queen to provoke.

 

General of Music

Which Umbrian characters would you like to represent? And how?
Currently no real person, but I have made two generals fruit out of my imagination, which embody the General of Music and the General of Chocolate. The first represents Perugia and Umbria Jazz, an event that I love, and this one embodies the madness, the genius and the love of music. On the other side, the general of Chocolate represents the history of Perugia and its link with chocolate: for this reason it is represented in an extremely ironic facet in the middle of a background of pralines, while eating a chocolate. He’s enriched by friezes medals and insignias, and obviously there is the Bacio, the most famous chocolate bun in the world.

How would you represent Umbria?
I really don’t know. I’m thinking about representing ancient people of our land. But, always in an extremely ironic way, so as to get them out of their institutional roles.

Who did you think?
San Francesco and Braccio Fortebraccio, but I could change my mind.

 

General of Chocolate

What’s your connection with Umbria?          
I am very fond of my land, and I am in love with my city, because I was born there and there I lived and live: Perugia.

As an entrepreneur and an artist, how could Umbria make a leap forward? On what should it bet?
Unfortunately, things to do would be many. It is a beautiful land from all points of view, full of resources. First of all I would like it to be loved by their inhabitants, so that everyone can do something to enhance it to the maximum. Then, I would like to make it known to everyone, allowing people to visit it easily. It should start from tourism, and visitors would also push the other sectors of the economy.

When you speak of “easy way”, do you refer to the difficulty of reaching it?
Exactly. Since I work a lot outside Umbria, I had always had problems with roads, trains and planes. Umbria is an island despite being at the center of Italy.

Three words to describe Umbria… 
Isolated, unique and magical.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking about this region… 
A heart: it is the geographical heart of Italy and it is in my heart.

 

 

More on Perugia

With her mezzo-soprano voice she enchanted Italian theaters and beyond. Marina Comparato, opera singer that comes from Perugia, has been living in Florence for some time, but takes Umbria into her heart.

Marina Comparato

Marina Comparato

You live in Florence, what is your relationship with Perugia and Umbria?
I was born in Perugia and lived there until I was 19 years old, when I moved to Florence to study and then to work, but I feel so linked with Umbria, because my family lives there. I have an emotional and a obviously familiar bond.

Do you think this region in your artistic field is well exploited?
It has so many cultural initiatives linked to theater and music, but the world of the opera, my world, is almost absent. This is a sore note for me. Perugia is perhaps the only Italian capital to have no opera season. There is only the Agostino Belli theater in Spoleto that rely on this art. The audience is interested into and you can see it in the rare shows, but it the political interest that lacks.

How could it be done?
In many regions, I think of Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and Marche, all the small theaters associate and give life to very interesting opera realities. In Perugia there are Gli Amici della Lirica who organize meetings and events, but they are forced to go outside the region to see operas. It would need a real intervention by politics, but for now, they are not interested into this field.

You left your city due to career. Have you ever repented?
I was forced into leave, because I wanted to do this job. But I always miss home and go back whenever I can. But I must say that I have never regretted the choice I made.

Have you ever been adviced of the Umbrian stereotype of being narrow-minded?
No, I am not, because I was educated to be open-minded. But I have to admit that Perugia is a closed city to those who are not born there or to those who do not live there. Sometimes I feel a little cut off because I have not been living there for a long time. This closeness is an historical feature of Perugia: people had always been prickly and closed. The city itself has two city walls that defend it and the opening has certainly not been encouraged by public transport. Just think of the railway lines that make Umbria even more isolated.

Three words to describe Umbria…
Green, gloomy and strange.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking about this region…
Saint Francis and his travels. He started out from a small region and came across the world.

 

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