Let’s define normality

With a delay of one week due to bad weather conditions and my physical sickness, at the last weekend I was able to visit an exhibition of paintings by people hospitalized in the mental hospital of my town, which is now closed, from 1960 to 1980. An art collective was created within the medical stucture to emphasize the therapeutic function of art.

My mother started to work in 1978 as a doctor in that mental hospital, during the night. She always tells me that she was so inexperienced and awed by people that she used to lock herself in the studio, even there was no real danger in the contact with patients.

Better to let the pictures speak, but I leave for you some provocative questions, with the hope that we can all have a discussion on my Facebook page, in this specific post.

What is normality? What is abnormality?

Is our deliberate judgement or assumption that marks the line of separation between sane and insane, or do we need a medical certification?

If I say that trees speak to me, and I hear their voices, will you think that I am a fool and I require medical treatment or will you simply think that I’ve watched too many New Age videos?

Every single person who lived in that mental hospital had a story, that somehow the Story, the one with the capital letter, has neglected and canceled.

They had hopes. Maybe they loved Christmas, they loved looking at the snow flakes falling.

Did they dance under the rain?

I feel relief when I think that painting might have brought to them some awareness of the feelings they wanted to represent, as art is always, and I underline always, intentional, since the dawn of times.

A selection of the artwork follows, but you can find all the pictures uploaded in this Facebook post. I’ll also go live to give you a global overview of the experience!!!!

‘Contenzione’, Manlio Paolocci: the woman portrayed by the painter, who was a doctor working in the mental hospital, during the painting session stood up, went to kiss the eye of her face painted, and came back to sit again.
Aldo: he added a sentence to this pastel work ‘History is an anachronism that must exist, because our life mirrors in it’. Notice the dicothomy in the brain and the eye with two eyeballs, opening many suggestions and interpretations.
Antonino from Giuliana, Sicily: the patient, who came from Sicily, represented a celebration in the streets and other memoirs from simple life in his native country.
Gabriella from Amelia: one of the several animals drawn with oil pastels, with simplified shapes, vigorous colours and big, dark eyes staring at the viewer.
Gabriella from Amelia: big eyes, deep eyes in human figures
Giovanni Skyra di Pola: he was a professional artist and produced more than 150 drawings and paintings, even on wall paper samples, of landscapes, animals, figures and portraits.