THE VESPA, THE APE, SYMBOLS AND COLOURS FROM SICILY: THE GRAPHIC ARTIST TURNED PAINTER IS ATTRACTING THE INTEREST OF AMERICAN MOVIE STARS LIKE SYLVESTER STALLONE
His canvases are a riot of colour, the brilliant colours of his native Sicily. And one of their recurring subjects is the Ape three-wheeler (known on the island as the “Lapa”), a vehicle with a place in the memories of entire generations of Sicilians, just like the Vespa. Van and scooter are loaded with multi-coloured cottages, against backgrounds of sand, palm trees, meadows and clouds. Just a glance at the works of Antonello Blandi (a graphic artist with an agency in Palermo, born in 1963) puts you in a good mood. The effect is infectious: his exuberant creations have been bought by Hollywood stars like Sylvester Stallone and Tommy Lee Jones. Blandi has also exhibited his works at many shows, including the recent show at the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles.
Sicilia colorata - Sylvester Stallone
In the USA, Blandi’s works decorate some of the country’s best-known Sicilian restaurants, frequented by Italian and American VIPs; and his pictures are exhibited by Soho gallery owners. Blandi has also made his name as a graphic designer, a skill that requires synthesis and intuitive flair: he created the logo for Palermo’s official candidacy as 2016 European sport capital.
One of the more exotic items visitors come across as they wander round the rich vintage vehicle collections at the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera is an ornate Ape van, painted in the style of a “Sicilian cart”. The sumptuously decorated van depicts typical scenes from the island’s traditions: from St George defeating the dragon to the symbol of Trinacria (the old name of the kingdom of Sicily), from Mount Etna erupting to popular scenes from Orlando Furioso, with the sea, sun, flowers and fruit dominating the decorations.
The van was painted by artist Roberto Caputo from Barrafranca (Enna), in 2008.
AND DON’T FORGET THE SICILY VESPA
The typical decorations of Sicilian carts have also transformed a splendid Vespa 150, painted by Gianfranco Fiore from Partinico (Palermo) in oils, enamels and varnishes.