A completely crazy journey through the places of Naïf genius.
Pushing on towards Reggio Emilia, the journey on the tracks of genius and disorder cannot but lead to the places dear to Antonio Ligabue, the Naïf painter of Swiss origin who spent part of his artistic career in the lands around Gualtieri. Despite the background landscape of many of his paintings depicting alpine scenarios, the artist’s life was extremely linked to the great bank of the Po and, specifically, to what is now known as the “Isola degli Internati”, nature area on the edge of the inhabited centre of the Reggio Emilian town.
Leaving behind the house-museum di Via Giardino 27, in whose stable Antonio Ligabue stayed and worked in for several years – sleeping on his feet like horses as he was terrified of dying in his sleep – you cross the square of Gualtieri and come out in the Bassa, towards Golena. When the fog envelopes the land and the poplar trees, the three wrecks resurfaced and rediscovered in 2006 after a great drought, seem to sail floating in an impalpable ocean towards the place where there once was the shed near to the cableway of Caldarèn, a term that indicated the containers used to transport clay into the factory with the brick furnace. It was exactly in these wild areas where Ligabue procured the material for his sculptures – today a place of incredible spontaneous renaturation of typical plant species such as white willow and elder – that the painter was noticed by Marino Mazzacurati, who took him with him to the villa near the sixteenth-century Palazzina Torello-Malaspina, where he stayed temporarily with his parents. Near the residence, the artist could sleep in the greenhouses and haybarns of the Count’s sharecroppers, which became the cradle of his unmistakeable pictorial style.