Untitled (2020) (35)
from Italiano Teatro
ink on paper
12 x 9 inches
The Italian Theatre
"The expressive Italians remain in my mind after 50 years but I do not know why? My first occurrence was 1964 at age 19 and It was Naples. I met a woman and she showed me affection that was spontaneous and gentle. Women in Italy rule the house, the food, the children, and now as doctors and lawyers, scientists, artists and scholars, Italian women have beamed all over the world, including Canada…
My second trip to Italy was in ’76 when the old CEAC was performing in northern Italy. Again the warmth and expressiveness came through as we met the students, and families with their children, watching our performances.
My third trip was travelling overnight from Kasel to Lecce in the South. I stayed five hours in Lecce before returning to Berlin. Again, it was an Italian woman who talked to me as a brother…
My fourth trip was as an artist with Paul Petro Gallery and again I returned to Lecce, this time in 1992, to stay a month at a pensione. Each day was exciting, looking for photographs, drawing ideas, and meeting my neighbours. Each morning I went to the market to buy breakfast and eat like a northern Italian. The food was delicious, the wine inspiring, and the coffee always sharp. The other tenants in the pensione wanted a portrait but I gave them caricatures because I never drew faces. The pensione had people from Lecce as well as Arabs, Greeks and Spaniards, so the language problem was always humorous but we managed and I paid my $10. a night for my room.
The drawings bloomed and I knew they were going to be shown sooner or later.
After all these years the caricatures come from the heart with a special place for Italy which is impossible to explain."
— Ron Giii, November 2020
Ron Gillespie (born 1944, New Westminster, BC) received his earliest training in art in 1962-64 at H.S.C. Prince of Wales College, Nairobi, East Africa. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1975 and has been active in Toronto’s visual arts scene for over 40 years. During the 1970s Giii went on to develop a performance career, often in association with CEAC, one of the city’s original artist run centers. During that time Giii toured extensively with CEAC, performing in numerous cities in the US and Europe. In 1982, he founded TRY Organization Theatre Co. for ex-mental patients, after his own experience with bi-polar disorder. At this time, Giii’s own art practice also changed and he began making the oil stick paintings and delicate drawings for which he is primarily known today. His work is held in public collections across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Carleton University Art Gallery, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, ON.