(Belgrade, 1907 – Arco di Trento, 1936)

“I don’t even know what we mourned more, Tasso, who calmly bore the weight of the motherland on his chest, or the world he perceived as a sacred reflection in glorious gold, in which he suffered misery, indifference and distress. Tasso Marchini was an exceptionally great talent in Transylvanian fine arts, destined for great things. But by the time the Italian state offered him a scholarship, he could no longer be helped. Van Gogh’s red, which he painted from his own blood on his stunning paintings devoured him and he died …”(József Kováts).

His critic and friend, József Kováts, who felt at home in the artistic circles of the Belle Arte School in Cluj-Napoca, lamented the tragic death of the genius at a very young age in 1936. Born of an Italian father and a Serbian mother, Tasso Marchini became a Transylvanian in an adventurous way. His life ended in great loneliness and deep sadness over unquenchable creativity and homesickness, in Arco, Italy, at the age of thirty, in the prime of his life. Shortly before his death, he wrote the following to his best friend Antal Andor Fülöp: “For an artist, not to work for a year equals to death, and the way things are this might be my end… Many brutes think that art is like commercial travelling, one just continues where they left off. Human stupidity angers me and I suffer more and more each day. But my condition is even worse because in these people, stupidity is combined with evil, and the nature of such people can be lethal…I thought I would never lose the superiority I felt over life, even in the most troubled times, but I have lost my composure and I have lost my greatest weapon against man and life: my cynicism – I have lost my sense of humour, my smile, I have lost everything…”

“What a joy it is to write to friends at such times and to know that they are all such true friends. This is the time when one has the most reasons to doubt, but you have all proven that you are the best friends in the world. God bless you all.”

 The fate of this destitute emerging artist, growing up without parents, often suffering from hunger and living on charity would make a good story on its own. Yet Tasso is not remembered for his life but for being a pioneer of the 20th century Transylvanian painting in the 20s and 30s. His exceptional talent burned the candle at both ends, which soon consumed his weak body. The fiery colours of his painting became the reflections of the beauty ideal of Cézanne and van Gogh, in the Carpathian Basin. Had he been born in Western Europe, he would have been long seated amidst his greatest role models in the pantheon of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. However, the talented artist, who graduated from Belle Arte in 1925, remained a Transylvanian “world citizen” till his last breath. The Parisian education of his teachers gave a French taste to his oeuvre, while the fresh air of the school of painting in Baia Mare cleared up his impressions. His brief life was crowned by his short-lived but everlasting romantic relationship with the painter Letiția Muntean (Tizzi). 

In our exhibition, four oil paintings by Tasso Marchini – two portraits and two still lifes – reflect the vibrant personality of their creator, their chromaticity contradicting the potential of a sick body. There is no sign of depression, on the contrary, his paintings seem to be glorified coloured visions from the 1930s. In the portrait of the Peasant Woman the brush yielded firm, solid strokes, while the portrait of his best friend and companion, Antal Andor Fülöp, created in 1933, is clad in burning red and quiet browns. The still lifes, composed in a Cézanneian style, date back to 1930. Their colours are nourished by the hope of the pleasant times spent with Tizzi.