Bruno Croatto completed his training in Trieste and later perfected himself in Munich, making his debut as early as 1897 (L’eletta exposed in Venice). He quickly matured an unmistakable style, supported by an impeccable design and a clarity of vision at times surreal. In a certain sense, with his still lifes, his landscapes and his rarest portraits, the atmosphere of magical realism is perceived.
Among the works exhibited at national exhibitions we remember: Crepuscoli, The bell of Monte Castello, A silent corner, Light intoxication, Ponte della Guerra, Still life, Venice, Biblical motif, The school of San Rocco, The queen of Sheba, Il covo dei pirates, lemons, Salome. A magnificent artist: painter and etcher.
It is certainly not I who can claim to “discover” Bruno Croatto from Trieste. They know him too well, they love him deeply, he is their “enfant gaté”, and I, who have spent many delightful hours in his studio, amidst the most exquisite stills of his luminous art, will only try to show my readers my admiration for this painter so alive, so effective, so creative, so multiform.
In his atelier it seems to be in Japan or China and if it were not his works and if it were not the presence of this man all nerves and all “verve” – with a slightly Japanese appearance because he is hairless and dry – the illusion would be complete. An artistic conversation with Bruno Croatto is a rare enjoyment of the spirit: he speaks with vivacity, with an intense spiritual restlessness, with a clear, precise, sculptural sincerity.
What he says represents him with surprising accuracy, with few words, with a few short strokes of his tacitian phrase, just polite were so many touches of his brush. As he paints, so he speaks: with sincerity of color, with rapidity of touch. And I understood his art – the essence of this, his art – looking at his works commented on by his word and gesture.
For him it is completely indifferent to have to paint a flower, a cloud, a fruit, a body: the whole universe, for him, is nothing but a set of splashes of color. If he chooses a flower tougher than a fruit it is not for the object, it is only because he finds, in the one he has chosen, a certain harmony of color that pleases him.
Even in the etching – where he is a master – it is, above all, the pictorial impression that dominates: if he were to do the etching based only on the sign and on the line, he would not know how to get by.
It is a pictorial temperament par excellence. Even with a little charcoal or white clay he always and only seeks the effect of color. Drawing, in the scholastic, academic, classical sense, the drawing of the contours does not exist for him: indeed, in some marvelous drawings, it is completely abolished: there is only the effect of color – of black and white – which compensates the contour, which makes the plastic of a human body, the sinuosity of a hip or any curve: the very spirit of the movement interpreted and rendered not by the design but by the effect of color – rather than light.
It would seem a paradox; but look at his drawings and all his paintings and in each one you will find this natural, passionate research which is the very need of his soul, which is the necessary expression of all his artistic conception. Moreover, this concept of his corresponds perfectly to the pictorial canon: that painting must, after all, give the illusion of what it is not, it must be done with few means and be not made of few means.
Velasquez proved it and it seems that Bruno Croatto, in love, follows the master of Spain. That painting by Velasquez: “Innocent X” in the “Galleria Doria” in Rome is a marvelous portrait: wherever you stand, the pope’s eyes look at you, stare at you, scrutinize you: it looks like a meticulously finished portrait: look at it closely you will notice instead that it is made up of seven or eight strokes of color.
The whole effect is due, in fact, to the play of color. And it seems that Croatto tends to arrive at this: simplicity of workmanship, spontaneity more apparent than real. After all, these works cost more effort than those in which the creator does not want to hide the artifice.
Bruno Croatto has painted many flowers: perhaps nothing else in nature gives him that harmony of color with which his exquisite soul is in love; perhaps the harmony of a yellow and green, of a white and green, like this, could only be obtained by putting together fabrics! But no less. However – as I said earlier – he doesn’t paint flowers for the sake of making a flower: color, color: here is the eternal enchantress of his eyes and his hand.