Rosario Tornatore was born in Acireale in the province of Catania in 1938. He was lucky to grow up in a family environment especially sensitive to the arts, where painting and music formed essential moments of the daily life.
Artistic studies were a vocation for him, and hence totally natural. His training began in Catania, where he attended, and obtained a diploma from, the State Institute of Art. It continued in Rome, where he completed his studies, obtaining the Academic Diploma in Stage Designing from the Fine Arts Academy.
In the same Academy he followed the engraving courses held by Mino Maccari and Lino Bianchi Barriviera, with notable results. Still in the same city, he enriched his artistic studies at the
Faculty of Architecture, Academy of France and the National School of Graphics and Commercial Art.
In the Roman period, from ’60 to ‘65, he began exhibiting, presenting his works in personal and collective exhibitions at important public venues and participating in various national painting competitions where he often won the first prize.
The catalogue for his first personal exhibition, at the "Il Cerchio" gallery in Rome, boasted an introduction written by Virgilio Guzzi who recognised a young artist of great promise.
During this long stay in Rome, there were many fruitful meetings with prominent people who were also to be decisive for his work, including Franco Gentilini, Emilio Greco, Pericle Fazzini, Luigi Montanarini, Renato Guttuso and Mario Rivosecchi.
At the same time he got involved in the field of stage designing, creating numerous works; of these, the one for “Le sedie” by Jonesco at the Goldoni Theatre stands out. In collaboration with Luigi Scaccianoce, he also worked in the world of cinema, helping to create the sets for some important films such as “Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo” by Pier Paolo Pasolini and “Il Viaggio” by Vittorio De Sica.
His inexhaustible desire to learn pushed the artist to move to Paris - at that time the capital of Modern Art - in 1965.He was to stay there until 1969, intensely living the ferment of the Parisian cultural environment and coming into close contact with great masters like Picasso, Masson, Pignon and Samos.
He held his first personal exhibition at the Galerie de Beaune, presented by a very famous critic of the time - Lourival Gomes Machado.
Mutual esteem and warm friendship united him with young artists such as Licata, Calos, Kallos and Agam who, like him, were the emerging exponents of the new generations in the Parisian environment.
He collaborated with Eduard Pignon in the creation of the sets for “Renard”, an amusing work by Stravinskij.
In Paris he attended first the Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts, then the experimental studio of Friedlander and Goetz, where he had the chance to perfect both the methods and the new techniques of modern copperplate engraving.
With artists like Calder, Schoffer, Vasarely and Le Parc, as well as the Nouveau Réalisme group of Pierre Restany, he shared the same positions; in fact his experience (sometimes related to that of these movements) revealed itself as solutions he'd already tested, with the aim of continuing to follow his own line of research and with the need to formulate a language intended to bring together representation and abstraction. In this way he blended the need for narrative contents (often of mythographical origin too) with the need to try out new linguistic perspectives.
His training arrived at a peak right at a historic moment characterised by the emergence of important movements like Kinetic Art and Pop Art.
During his time in Paris, he exhibited in various French and Italian cities, acquiring influential acknowledgements.
In ’69 he returned to Italy, where he held the chair of Pictorial Disciplines at the Artistic Secondary School of Catania and, for a certain period, the chair of Stage Designing at the FineArtsAcademy in the same city, thereby alternating his stays and consequent work between his studios in Paris and Acireale.
He later moved on to Venice, spending short periods there over a number of years. This was the occasion to establish intense relations with the critics Umbro Apollonio, Silvio Branzi, Giuseppe Marchiori , Toni Toniato and Enzo Di Martino, as well as to become part of the artistic environment that gathered around the figures of Virgilio Guidi, Mario De Luigi and Leone Minassian.
In ‘70 he held his first personal Venetian exhibition at the "Il Traghetto 1" gallery, with the catalogue presented by Toni Toniato.
In Venice he took part in the work of the International Graphic Centre, and this allowed him to devote time to another of his passions - the creation of engravings.
During this period, he was invited to exhibit his work in various Italian and European cities - Brussels, London, Paris, Grenoble, Chartres, Geneva, Catania, Acireale, Venice, Bologna, Rome, Varese, Alessandria - and then in the United States, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Venezuela and Malta.
In ‘67 he was invited to the International Exhibition of Graphics in Lubijana and that of Vancouver. He was also present with his graphic works at the important Graphics Review - VI International Biennial of Graphics in Cracow.
The critical evaluation of his work encouraged the collectors' interest, enabling him to participate in important private and public collections of Modern Art and to carry out work for churches and banking institutions.
The 1981 personal exhibition at the Visual Arts Gallery in Catania coincided with the publication of a book bringing together the works from 1979 to 1981, edited by “Edizioni Arti Visive” and compiled by Francesco Gallo, Mario Penelope, Toni Toniato and Marisa Vescovo.
From 1983 the critic Mario Penelope became enthusiastically involved in his work, proposing him for various exhibitions.
In 1985 the curators of the XVIII International Art Review of Acireale dedicated a tributary exhibition to him at the Town Hall, writing that this initiative was “…the right acknowledgement of the merits acquired by Tornatore throughout his artistic career, as widely recognised by both national and foreign critics…”.
For this occasion, a book compiled by Riccardo Barletta, Massimo Carboni and Francesco Gallo will be published.
The second half of the 1980s brought the opportunity to emphasise his work as a set designer, working also for RAI (Radio Televisione Italiana) in the preparation of the sets for the documentary film “Il Signor Goethe, poeta naturalista, in viaggio per Messina anche” of Vanni Ronsisvalle.
In 1988 the Authority of the Bellini Theatre of Catania entrusted him with the creation of both the indoor and outdoor sets and the posters for the “Bellini Days” celebrations.
On this occasion he began to turn his attentions to sculpture as well.
He produced a monumental work, including it in his scenery project in Piazza Teatro Massimo Bellini.
Over the following years he often went back to Paris, where he organised an important exhibition of his most recent paintings. He never really left his Parisian studio, returning now and then to work and to maintain his relations with the artists and exponents of the movements that were then dominating the cultural scene.
In 2001 he moved to Monferrato, setting up his home and studio in Cerrina.
The next year he held personal exhibitions in Vercelli, Milan, Santa Margherita Ligure and Turin.
In 2002 a book - TORNATORE “l’Orizzonte Infinito” - was published by Verso L’Arte to coincide with the personal exhibition at the Palazzo del Senato in Milan, and a video entitled “Il Sole nella Notte che tramonta al Giorno” was produced and directed by Ruggero Tornatore and published by A.I.A.C.C. (the International Academy of Art and Contemporary Culture).
In 2003, on the occasion of his personal exhibition at Palazzo Guasco in Alessandria, sponsored by the Office for the Promotion of Culture of the Province of Alessandria and organised by Paolo Levi and Toni Toniato, the book “Cosmocromie” was published by ELEDE.
In the same year, he produced a large work entitled “Le Ali della Vita, le Ali della Guerra, le Ali della Morte”: it was a mixed technique on canvas, measuring 200 x 100cm, and was acquired by the “G. Bargellini” Art Museum of Italian Generations of the Twentieth Century in Pieve di Cento in the province of Bologna.
Other works were to be subsequently acquired by museums and public authorities. These include:
2003 - Office for the Promotion of Culture of the Province of Alessandria - Palazzo Guasco - Alessandria - “Fuoco Sacro”, 2001, mixed technique on canvas, 70 x 50 cm
2003 - Museo dei Lumi - Jewish community of Casale Monferrato, Alessandria
2004 - Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna - Gallarate, Milan
2006 - Sicilian Regional Assembly - Palazzo dei Normanni - Palermo
2006 - MAGI (Art Museum of Italian Generations of the Twentieth Century) - Pieve di Cento, Bologna - 67 etchings + aquatint on zinc, from 1964 to 2007
2010 - In the occasion of the personal "Topocromie" at the Art Gallery Bugno in Venice, was published a book with a critical essay by Amnon Barzel and a "dedication" of Toni Toniato.
Numerous historians and critics have written about his work in catalogues, magazines and newspapers, including Umbro Apollonio, Giulio Carlo Argan, Riccardo Barletta, Amnon Barzel, Cislaine Brousse, Francesco Carbone, Massimo Carboni, Reneé Carvalho, Giuseppe Contarino, Vincenzo Di Maria, Matteo Donato, Luigi Fraccalini, Carlo Franza, Francesco Gallo, Virgilio Guzzi, John Hart, Irving Laving, Paolo Levi, Marino Longhi, Lourival Gomes Machado, Sigfrido Maovaz, Giuseppe Marchiori, Sandra Orienti, Franco Passoni, Gerardo Pedicini, Mario Penelope, Mario Portalupi, Mario Rivosecchi, Paolo Rizzi, Franco Russoli, Koler Samos, M.me Shore, Leon Luis Sosset, Carlo Federico Teodoro, Toni Toniato, Laura Tansini, Varano, Marisa Vescovo, Alain Vildairt, Alain Viray and Catherine de Wrangel.
The artist lives and works in
Cerrina Monferrato (AL)
in Via Roma 92 - Italy,