He always wanted to flee from every category and this gave him great freedom to range in many different areas without having to justify or explain his professional choices.
He loved to work on the meaningful and not on the meaning, on objects and not on their names, on drawings and not on what they expressed. So he was a creator, not of words but of the meanings they had. His chosen subject was the colour and sign – and these were the carriers of his whole life – without justifications or any sort of theoretical scaffolding.
And while the decades passed, during which he improved his ability in drawing and printing always new characters, Picone tried to trace the fundamental stages of his life – shows, exhibitions, meetings, contacts, reviews, publications etc. –, without realising that, most of all, it was his work, the ceramics, fabrics, clothes and hundreds of drawings, that best and unerringly recounted his career, and that, even today, invite us to read their poetry.
“The pretini were created between 1955 and 1958 in the aftermath of my definitive transfer to Rome. At the time, I still lived in Naples. It was when I went to the Jesuit Collegio Massimo S. Luigi on the hill of Posillipo.
I had a very strange feeling on seeing a group of priests come out onto the square in front of the college. On the way up, from afar, I’d seen these little figures coming out, moving like a lot of little black and white dots. I said to myself, I want to try to do this type of decoration. I wanted to try to depict that moment, capture it as it started, and that’s what I did. It was a salvation encountering that motif.”
Many people asked him for explanations about its origin. Picone usually answered,
“i see the pretini as a part of the italian landscape.”
Gino Marotta said:
“Giuseppe was so dedicated to this motif that it took him hours to do the head of a pretino. It had to be perfect, as he saw it in his head, with a low forehead or a long face, long clothes or buttons. It wasn’t just a pictorial question but also an expressive one. He worked at this style as if it was a real piece of architecture. For him, this person was a sort of construction to be defined each time. It was built and changed with a commitment and complexity that, looking at them, no- body catches or understands. Instead they were the fruit of continuous study and research.”
“He exercised a sort of ‘priesthood’ of the image through which he represented himself,” said Marotta. “Never changing the decorative motif, the fact of carrying out a continuous search for a variant of the pretino, keeping a style alive for all his life – a difficult, ephemeral style – can’t have been easy. But he succeeded in full.”