Cavani’s Magic Mountains

It’s good to see Emilio Cavani’s muscular landscapes of the Apuan Alps on show at the Atrio Gallery of Bagni di Lucca’s Comune. We’d last seen them some years ago at the festa Del Castagno (chestnut festival) at Lupinaia and remember them with great pleasure. More than any other painter I know, Cavani truly captures the superb sculptural shapes of the extraordinary mountains we are so privileged to live amongst. He paints them with ardour and a true rendering of their almost animate quality, The mountains really come alive and their rocks seem to speak to us of primal ages and the metamorphoses of our planet. At the same time, Cavani’s technique is firmly grounded in the perennial forms so beautifully delineated by such artists as Cezanne himself.

Something about Emilio Cavani. Born in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in 1934 he comes from a family of craftsmen and restorers. He still works in restoration and wood carving. In the 1960’s Cavani concentrated on paintings of the Apuans’ marble quarries emphasizing the hard and dangerous work the miners are involved in. In the 1980’s he turned his attention to the mountains themselves which he has thoroughly explored as an experienced mountaineer.

Cavani’s teachers include such painters as Gino Bertoncini, Angelo Roberto Fiori, Vasco Cavani and Angelo Scapanini. Most interestingly, Cavani struck up a friendship with the great anthropologist and explorer Fosco Maraini who is buried nearby at Alpe San Antonio. (To learn more about Maraini see my post on him at Maraini was a great admirer of Cavani’s paintings.

Cavani’s exhibitions have been numerous and in 2004 he won first prize as the painter who best captured the essence of our Garfagnana landscape.

Many of his works are in private collections, in Italy, Australia, Japan, Canada, the United States, in Scotland, in England and some of his works were commissioned by the University of Vermont, (Department of Art).

A poem, at the exhibition, by Mara Mucini, who collaborated with me in last year’s literary section of the Bagni di Lucca Arts Festival, aptly describes the allure of the Apuans.

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Here is a selection of Emilio Cavani’s paintings which imbue the extraordinary Apuan Alps with an arcane magic. Those of you who know these mountains will have no problem in recognizing the Pania della Croce, il Passo della Sella, il Monte Forato, la Pania Secca, il Monte Sumbra, il Pisanino, il Pizzo dell ‘Uccello, il Procinto, I bimbi del Procinto – all mountains which even I at some time or other have tackled.


PS The exhibition ends on June 24th.


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