I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. Since the age of four I have been exposed to art, thanks to my Uncle Roberto, who religiously picked me up every Sunday morning to bring me to a museum to contemplate art. At the age of fourteen, I bought my first oil painting set with my savings, and I painted on my own for the next eight years. From 1978 to 1980, I studied at the Scuola Libera del Nudo (Free School for Drawing and Painting sponsored by the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome) under the instruction of the Armenian artist, Alfonso Avanessian. From 1980 to 1981, I was enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, then from 1981 to 1983, studied further under Alfonso Avanessian, during which I experimented with drawing, oil pastels, dry pastels, tempera, watercolor, acrylic, and oil paintings. It was a very productive, creative, and formative period for me.
On December 1, 1983, I arrived in Philadelphia. At the age of twenty-seven, I was beginning the biggest adventure of my life—to be an artist.
When I first arrived in Philadelphia, I worked as a house painter by day and as an artist by night. In 1988 I enrolled in a four-year certificate program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where I studied under Seymour Remenick, who became my mentor and friend for the last ten years of his life. Seymour gave me the support to make my own mistakes and to learn from them. His love for art, painting, and people was contagious. This love is an integral part of my vision as an artist. Seymour reinforced my belief in following my heart and what I love in life.
Since 1997 I have been teaching painting at various art centers in the Philadelphia area. I enjoy teaching and sharing my knowledge and experiences from my studio and as an en plein air painter with my students. I have found teaching to be inspiring, challenging, and creative. My approach to painting is to communicate to the viewer my love for life and humankind. I strive to capture in the act of painting a moment that exists in me, inspired by the light and colors that nature offers us every moment.
I am and always was inspired by light.
I have been painting for forty-eight years and I still remember my fascination for the light in Caravaggio’s paintings when I was six years old, and when I was a young adult I would spend hours watching the changing light from the crest of the Gianicolo over the rooftops of Rome. I would say that light is the subject matter of my paintings, and I still carry the nostalgic experience of light from Rome now in my work.
I paint from life, going on location to paint landscapes and seascapes in the Alla Prima Technique (resolving them in one sitting), or staying in my studio to paint still lifes in the Multiple Sitting Technique. I always paint from direct observation, and this is because I want to have the experience of seeing more than reproducing an exact copy of nature.
I want to describe the experience of seeing that comes to me as the feelings and intuitions I get in the act of painting. I want to express, with a kind of shorthand application of paint, the unspoken aspects of Nature as it is revealed by the ever-changing light. Light transforms objects; light transcends concepts. Light creates space.
As light breaks down forms into masses of illumination and shadow, and as light drains or saturates colors into spaces of moving intensities, the experience of seeing is endlessly changing, infinitely fluid and changeable. I have been painting landscapes and still lifes for such a long time because I see the world with new eyes every time I paint.
Communicating this spontaneity and the immediacy of nature through my process of painting, I hope to inspire others to consider the beauty of everyday life. To be present in the moment is what makes our lives richer.
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Giovanni Casadei was born and raised in Rome, Italy where he studied at the Scuola Libera del Nudo and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, as well as under the instruction of the Armenian artist, Alfonso Avanessian. In December 1983 he arrived in Philadelphia, where he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under his mentor Seymour Remenick. He has been showing and selling his work in Philadelphia and other major cities for the last twenty years. More at www.giocasadei.com.