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Gianluigi Toccafondo: a painter in motion

Gianluigi Toccafondo (San Marino, 1965) is a highly talented painter, illustrator and filmmaker who received his education at the ISA of Urbino, an Artistic Institute that can boast having been the first in Italy to give room to the study of animation techniques. Toccafondo was drawn to cinema during his student days; when he began thinking about infusing his painting with movement. His first work opportunities in the field of animation were in Milan, where in a few short years he proved his worth for his original style in the field of graphics and advertising. Just to mention a few examples, the animation for the well known television ad campaign for Sambuca Molinari was his, as were the logo and trade mark of the Film Production Company Fandango and the book covers for the attached publishers, as well as trade marks /logos for well known television programs like Evans and Tunnel.

Alongside this production exists however another lesser-known outpouring. Seven animated auteur short films that the public has had few opportunities to see. The inspiration for these films was his father's pottery work, which allowed him to appreciate the beauty of a form in movement and the appeal of the del passage from one figure to the next, even more so than that of the finished piece. These influences emerge clearly in the continuous metamorphosis of the figures, which lengthen and reform frame after frame giving his films an exceptional dynamic quality. For his short films Toccafondo uses a work method based on the re-elaboration of the image: he rarely begins from scratch, more frequently he uses images, photos or any other preexisting idea and modifies and animates it through a dense and elongated painting. As was the case in his cinematographic debut, La coda (1989), reworks some images from the films of Buster Keaton, while for his subsequent work, La pista (1991, in collaboration with Simona Mulazzani), he takes inspiration from some images in Fellini's Ginger and Fred. Again it was cinema, but in a different manner, which inspired Le criminel (1993), which suggests an atmosphere reminiscent of the noir genre.

He used a different approach for Pinocchio (1999), where the artist tells some of the episodes of the Puppets adventures in a style which detaches completely from the graphic tradition of the Fable, definitively affirming the extraordinary originality of his work. Once more connected to literature we have Essere morti o essere vivi è la stessa cosa (2000), with the images and words of Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Not without a more personal side: his latest animated short film, La piccola Russia (2003) is, like La pista del maiale (1992), before it, based on autobiographical and rural ideas. With a duration of over 16 minutes, it is a mature and complex work.

In each of these films one witnesses a continuous transformation of one frame into another but at the same time the extraordinary expressive force of each individual frame remains. The effect is to render the work of Gianluigi Toccafondo an extraordinary union between cinema and painting.