Introducing Paolo Dalponte: artist, friend and travel companion
I first met Paolo in the late 80s at the airport of Milan Linate. I was on my way to Amsterdam and then Bali with a bunch of people coming from different walks of life, acquaintances and friends of friends who got together by the common interest to travel to faraway destinations in a private group. Paolo was one of them too.
I particularly remember this trip because it was my initiation to the Far-East: Bali, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong, the must-see destination of ‘Asia for Dummies’, as we were at that time. One year later, the group eventually shrunk to four carefully selected travellers: Paolo, his friend Alberto, my father and I, and we adventured into wilder places like Sumatra and Sarawak, followed the year after by India.
When I met Paolo, he was reading Bohumil Hrabal’s novel ‘I served the King of England’ and so we struck a conversation about eastern European literature (Paolo used to extensively travel in particular to Czech Republic and Hungary, for his own personal interest and for his work) and literature in general. I soon found out that Paolo was a very good travel companion: a curious soul, a good listener and someone who always had something interesting to talk about. A modest person, he always showed endless calm and patience in every situation, qualities quite difficult to find in our hyper-active and stressful world.
Paolo’s demeanour was especially exemplary during our trips around Asia. On these occasions, he often had to bear with my father’s outbursts when – for instance – at a family-run Indonesian eatery, the nasi goreng took one hour to be served or when, in India, our driver stopped in the middle of the road and turned off the car engine, patiently waiting for a cow that was obstructing the way to get up and move away. It took the cow longer than half and hour to make up its mind and leave. As my father was fuming, threatening to get off the car and kick the animal, Paolo told him in a very calm way ‘Mario, relax. We are on holiday. We have time.’ Oddly enough, my father first looked at him frowning and with a strange glance, and then suddenly waited in silence, without further cursing.
I’ve always believed that, if not for his artistic skills, Paolo could have become a perfect yoga or meditation guru in his Poia Ponte Arche, a small village surrounded by mountains and located in Trentino Alto Adige, a place that could well be the right setting for an ashram.
After sharing fabulous travel memories, I was lucky enough to keep in touch with Paolo during the years that followed our winter peregrinations and even after I relocated to Asia, from where I witnessed his artistic evolutions and the many well-deserved awards he received for his work. His skills as painter and later cartoonist had been immediately apparent to me. But Paolo was continuously evolving, embracing various artistic ventures. He moved from Magritte-style, surrealistic oil paintings, where the quantity of medium utilized was meticulously dosed, to the big tromp-l’oeil murals in Balbido, a beautiful village in Trentino (In the picture: Paolo’s painting on one of the more than hundred houses decorated by different artists), to detail-obsessed pencil drawings and cartoons that became, slowly and without too much ado, Paolo’s favourite humorous, ironic and even satirical means of expression.
At B39 we welcome any form of valid artistic expression and, as we enjoy playing with subtle irony as well, we think that Paolo’s artworks fit the bill and can become another interesting outlet for cultural appreciation and open conversation.
You’ll get to know Paolo better as he ‘talks’ to you through his – sometimes enigmatic – pieces in his soon-to-be dedicated blog. Thank you, Paolo.
Polo Dalponte, painter, cartoonist and illustrator, attended the state Institute for Applied Art in Trento. In 1988 Paolo had his first solo exhibition at Castello di Stenico (Trento, Italy), to which many more followed: in Austria, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Turkey, Iran, France, etc. Since 1990, Paolo has obtained numerous first prizes and awards in humorous graphic competitions in Italy and abroad: Belgrade, Beijing (China), Kaliningrad (Russia), Antalya (Turkey), Damasco (Syria), Surgut (Siberia), Olen (Belgium), Bangalore (India), just to name a few. Paolo interprets with irony and humour objects and shapes through the techniques of oil painting, acrylic, pencil, watercolour and Chinese ink.