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  • Writer's picturevanessarumaz

On Pinocchio, freedom, and other things

Despite attending art school, I "really" began drawing and painting just a few years ago, shy of reaching the half a century milestone. And when I say "really," what I mean is an enjoyable experience, free of expectations and irreverent to judgment (especially my own). Before that, I had dedicated my life to technology, and now I can safely say I am a recovering technologist. I would find refuge in art when I had enough of dealing with machines, and software, and the inability to commit mistakes brought to you by CTRL Z. I would reluctantly go back to art when forced by a family member asking: "can you paint me this? can you paint me that?" In my early 20s I painted anything that would sponsor my trips around the world, and that was a good enough excuse for me to sell my art soul to the highest bidder.

My first liberating drawing where I poured all my emotions out without any judgment was one of Pinocchio.

One afternoon during the pandemic, I was sitting under my pergola enjoying the arrival of Spring. I received a message from my Friend Mirco announcing our common friend Fabrizio had passed away. Fabrizio Gori was an incredible artist and human being. I had met him in Florence when Mirco took me to his restaurant, which wasn't just a restaurant but an extension of Fabrizio's vision and creativity. Fabrizio was an accomplished artist and a connoisseur of all things Pinocchio. He had illustrated the tale of the wooden puppet in a masterpiece book that is part of the Moma permanent collection.

At that time, I was amusing myself by drawing fairies. I gifted Fabrizio a children's book I had illustrated and felt incredibly proud when he displayed it in the restaurant among his art. A few weeks later, I received a package in the mail. Inside there was a sculpture of Pinocchio he had painted in his unique style. I went to see Fabrizio many times after that first encounter. We spoke of having an exhibition of fairies and Pinocchio, something I regret never happened.

After Fabrizio passed, I never felt the desire to go back to Florence, a city I loved and held close to my heart. For me, the true meaning of a place resides in the people I meet, which makes me feel at home. With Fabrizio gone, It was as if the city lost part of his soul, and I no longer felt the connection.

That first drawing of my neurotic Pinocchio opened to door to many others. I drew all day long, sometimes into the early morning hours. I let everything I had inside come out on paper. I did not control any emotion; I did not control my stroke or worry about aesthetics and rules, and most of all, expectations.

My drawings were raw, sincere, unapologetic, and uncomfortable. I was known for my gentle romantic, perfectly crafted fairies, so when I first showed my messy lines and circles of charcoals, often the response was: " Are you ok?".

And if there was a time when I would worry about it and reconsider what I was doing, this time, I simply didn't care and went on exploring what I had wanted to say for a long time. And I enjoyed it and still do.

Ciao Fabrizio, e grazie.

Warmly and with gratitude,


La città degli aquiloni Vanessa Rumaz AKA Mercante

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