Outtakes and specials from an intimate morning with a great human being.
If this was 1999 or 2000 I would obviously got “the call”, and by that I mean that special call from a special magazine that would like to feature your work, but since we are in 2019 I have received a “dm” (direct message on instagram). On the other side of the chat was Carlo, deputy director of both Ruote Classiche and Top Gear Italia magazine. Carlo knew my work, mostly my “car portraits” and he said that he would have wanted me aboard something new, something fresh. That new project turned out to be the restart of the glorious AUTO ITALIANA.
"Squeeze my hands tight, because these hands have hold the most beautiful things in the world, and hopefully I will pass some of this beauty to you"
I went to visit Carlo at the Editoriale Domus headquarters and we talked for hours, he showed me the material they were already working on and the unofficial preliminary model, I loved it. I showed him my latest automotive work and some other work that I had recently done in portraiture. We discussed different projects, all of them directly involved cars and some involved people and cars. Then we said goodbye and after a couple of weeks he came up with the idea. “There is a very important artist in Turin, his name is Ezio Gribaudo and he is ninety years old, he has an obsession for cars in his art and I would love if you could photograph him, I think you are the right author for this assignement and I sense that the two of you together might come up with something special”.
Well, Carlo was right. At first I was afraid, afraid that he, Ezio, could not accept me in his studio and that he might not give me enough time to take a good portrait of him, but I let things flow, as I usually do. I arrived at his studio without any plan in mind, I only knew that the studio was well lighted and immersed in “organised chaos”, as Giosuè Boetto Cohen told me (he is the brilliant author of the article on Auto Italiana), and that was enough for me. I usually pick a spot for a portrait during location scouting but this time I did not want to disturb my subject in any way. I wanted it to be as genuine as possible. I arrived early and had a nice chat with Paola, Ezio’s daughter, she was very nice and helpful and she took me for a tour of the studio, soon Mr Gribaudo arrived. White shirt and a white Panama hat, matched by a horse head shaped knob on his cane. I politely introduced myself and he wasted no time, he took my hands, he squeezed them hard and said: "Squeeze my hands tight, because these hands have hold the most beautiful things in the world, and hopefully I will pass some of this beauty to you".
"We’ve spent the whole morning together, talking about art, history, photography and Africa"
We’ve spent the whole morning together, talking about art, history, photography and Africa. I’ve told him that I had lived for more than one year in Sierra Leone; as soon as I said that his blue-greys eyes were staring into mine, it seemed like he looked through my memories and by reflex he clearly remembered one particular thing, then said: “there was a very big tree there”. I knew the tree he was referring to: the Cotton Tree, symbol of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone (According to legend, the "Cotton Tree" gained importance in 1792 when a group of former African American slaves, who had gained their freedom by fighting for the British during the American War of Independence, settled the site of modern Freetown). Moments after he says: “There should be a book about Africa somewhere, help me find it”. Once the book was found he started flipping through the pages and finally he found it, the painting he did “live” while looking at the “Cotton Tree”. We had finally found a link between us, fifty years apart, me forty, he ninety both united by the love for for life and the beauty of it and I guessed that made is both happy.
Auto Italiana final article.
I would like to thank once again Carlo Di Giusto for pairing me with the amazing human being that Ezio Gribaudo is. And I would also like to thank Auto Italiana director David Giudici for bringing me inside this new fantastic project, and last but not least, thanks to Giosuè Boetto Cohen for giving me those precious information. I am proud to be part of this.
love and respect,