Love for our land can assume many different forms and be colored with thousands of shades. Sicily inspired several artists, told about itself through the eyes of those people that have been able to interpret it. Francesco Collura, a painter from Palermo, turned his being Sicilian into one of his art’s strengths.
I met Francesco Collura at his atelier in via Mariano Stabile, 135 in Palermo and immediately plunged into an incredible chromatism. It’s a dive into a world where creativity rules. Our conversation started in front of one of his paintings that shows a painter who is portraying a woman. It’s a charming picture and immediately I asked him in which way the bond between him and the painting has begun.
«I believe that I learnt how to paint before I learnt how to talk», he said while smiling. «Painting is part of me, from the very beginning of my life. As time goes by, it became my best communication tool. Through my paintings I express thoughts and opinions about social or personal events, or about something happened to people that I know. I always add a touch irony, we need it in our everyday life! ».
I was looking around, his atelier was a continuous discovery. My eyes were caught by another painting with a guy and an open suitcase. Sicily was his baggage.
«It’s the first thing we should bring with us», Francesco Collura clarified. «I’m Sicilian. One of those jealous people that are viscerally attached to this wonderful land. I have lived in Rome for 8 years, it was an experience that I would do again, but at the same time I understood that I really missed Sicily, so I continuously painted it».
It’s clear that being Sicilian affects his work, Francesco – in fact – told me more.
«I decided to change everything and count on my island and my city, therefore I have opened my own studio. In the latest 5 years, I’ve collected indescribable satisfaction. In this period, I have met tons of people that love Palermo and do a lot to make it beautiful while using their ideas and talents. Recently, I made an artistic/monumental map of the city for ‘Turista a Palermo’, with the aim to give it color and vivacity. And color is my greatest strength, the intense contrasts that characterize our sunset, our sea and Sicilian carts».
I observed the walls and the easels that were surrounding me, I bumped into many different subjects: from a surreal Telegatto to two lovers covered by a bunch of snowflakes, from a dancer to a feminine representation of the music.
Francesco, what does inspire you to create your paintings?
«I find inspiration everywhere, from ordinary life to travels, my greatest passion. To know other places and people makes my cultural knowledge bigger and pushes everybody to better themselves. After every trip, I noticed that my contrasts of color have changed. For example, after a short period in Japan, many people saw another ‘light’ in my artworks. Colors mean feelings, and convey my current mood».
Francesco Collura, art and travels. Is there a fil rouge between your soul and these two dimensions?
«When I can, I leave! I think that travelling is the best way to invest money. Of course there’s a fil rouge! Every time I bring with me one of my paintings and then I capture it in a photo. Woe betide me if I forget it at home! It illustrates a tree, and its trunk consists in two hugged people. It’s a simple painting but has an important meaning. I made it to celebrate love. Two becomes one. It travels the world with me, because love is our strongest power».
World citizen but in love with Sicily: in your opinion, what’s your uniqueness? What does make you excellent?
«I don’t like to define me as excellent, I’m just satisfied and happy because I do what I love to do. I think that it’s incredible to share sensations with people who decide to hang one of my artworks in their houses, or that just stop in front of the window to look at them. I never suggest any specific painting, they call you and come into your life. The emotions I felt here are uncountable, I helped some people to say I love you, apologize, celebrate their family, recreate a dream and even to propose. Perhaps in this case I would use the word ‘excellence’, to describe the good relationship I established with other people».
The conversation with Francesco Collura is coming to an end, in the meantime I chose my painting (or probably it chose me). The kiss under the snow will live in my living room. Before concluding the interview, I glanced at the studio again and curiously asked him if there’s a painting that he’ll never give away.
He looked around too, quickly observed the canvases and then responded: «To give a painting away makes you live contrasting feelings, especially if we talk about those artworks that were born from personal stories and moments I shared with peculiar people. I keep many paintings with me, one is related to a love story, another one is in memory of my grandpa and then there’s a painting that is about the will to live in Sicily and face our weakness with our strengths».