Do you remember the images of the Genii? Reproductions – rotond, bald, round face and dressed in loose fitting clothes. If so, listen to my story.
As you drive up the winding road from Colleferro, some 40 km south of Rome next to the Napoli road, to Segni, one of the Cyclopean towns, you may see as you approach the town, across the descending valley, an old terrace of stone houses below the walls of the town.
Once you enter the town you may find the ‘Y’ intersection where you can navigate carefully down the cobbled street to these terrace houses. Only one is occupied as the others are in a state of disrepair or maybe repair. You are looking for a particular man who occupies this terrace.
The small entrance door is suitably below ground level down 4 steel steps of a staircase. Your efforts to attract attention are noticed after a short wait and the genius of reproduction appears at the door. His name is Emanuele Bandu. He has appeared from an artistic other world. His cavern is less inspiring than a Parisian garret, but on the walls are sketches and paintings apparently by the great masters. Is this a studio of a master?
The image of the Genii does not inspire such a conclusion, but as throughout history, first impressions are so often deluded. Around the walls are files and envelopes filled with pictures of great works and the remaining space contains catalogues and art books. Interestingly, the walls also contains pictures of some of the most famous composers, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn. One envelope contains images of most of the great paintings of horses, others are tributes to Rubens.
The art genii exposes some of his creations and we see that his work comprises not creations of new art, but just like the art of icon painting, this genii creates exact replicas of the works of the great artists, particularly of the Renaissance. Yet as we admire his recreation of Rubens great works, we note that Rubens has been revisited with a collage of ‘rubenesque’ images collected anew.
Emanuele was born in Romania, and was a royalist in a communist regime. He escaped to Italy and lived on the streets until a patron, recognising his great artistic talent, engaged Emanuele to become an inspired copyist. Yet Emanuele is not a technician, he is an encyclopaedia in a cyclopean town. His knowledge and understanding of artists of Europe is mind-boggling. It is not just the subjects of a Rubens work, but all the minute personal and technical details of its creation that come tumbling from this genii’s brain.
And something else has captured the genius of Emanuele. He can whistle over a thousand classical works and recounts the statistical qualifications and comparisons between the great composers, just as an aside.
You cannot just find Emanuele, but if you have a desire for a Rubens, Ghirlandaio, Titian or any of the great masters, and you lack the necessary €50 Million, maybe you can find the genii’s bottle among the shifting sands below the Cyclopean rocks of Segni.