Eighty years after the first exhibition of Italian painter Romualdo Locatelli at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Museum in Manila in 1940, the new book about the famous artist, “An artistic voyage from Rome, the Eternal City to Bali, the Isle of Gods” was presented to the public in the afternoon of January 30, 2020 at the UST Museum, Manila.
Gracing the event was the Ambassador of Italy to the Philippines His Excellency Giorgio Guglielmino.
Romualdo Locatelli (1905-1943) was the foremost Italian practitioner of the particular genre of Orientalist painting known as “Mooi Indie.” After attending the renowned Carrara and Brera academies (1917-1925), he reached great success in Bergamo and Milan (1925—1933). The increasing fame made him move to Rome, the Eternal City, where he opened his atelier in the most famous art street, Via Margutta.
In the Italian capital (1933-1938) Locatelli soon became the official portraitist of the Vatican high prelates and Royal family. Not satisfied by the spotlight of the most coveted stages, he preferred adventure and traveling, in search of new uncontaminated inspirations: he reached his artistic peak in Bali (1939-1940), the Island of the Gods. He drew inspiration from the whole of Southeast Asia, entranced by the wild, unspoilt landscapes, the intense and sophisticated sensuality of the women, the mystery and diversity of those unknown shores.
Together with his passion for observing human nature and constant exploration of its deepest essence through painting, this experience by Locatelli in the East can be regarded as both the cornerstone and the watershed of his entire life.
Presenting an extraordinary selection of the artist’s works, some of which are previously unpublished, accompanied by period photographs, letters and documents from the Locatelli archives, this book introduces readers to his world of torment and wonder. All the way from the early years in Italy, where his first steps were guided by an extraordinary family tradition of artistic practice, to the travels in the East, where his spirit found the ideal home and a stage worthy of his great talent and fascinating personality.
The book presentation at the UST Museum was the ultimate one, right in Manila, where Romualdo Locatelli spent his last years. The book was presented by Daniela Locatelli, the artist’s niece and president of the Locatelli Art Association.
The painting “Portrait of a Young Balinese Girl” by Locatelli, from the collection of the UST Museum, is featured in the book, and was on display during the book launch.