Franco Magnani is currently a memory artist who paints what he remembers of his hometown. Most of his paintings generally center around his growing up days in Tuscany. He had his first exhibition in San Francisco California.

But he was not always a painter. He had been working as a woodworker when he arrived in the United States of America. Before this, he was working as a cook in Italy. So something did happen that brought about the major paradigm shift in Magnani’s life.

Let’s find out.

franco magnani painting

Source: Franco Magnani

Magnani’s entry into art:

His first exhibition’s theme was Memory – a recurring theme found in most of Magnani’s work. The exhibit had been divided into 8 parts.

the exhibit

Source: exhibitfiles

exhibit 2

Source: exhibitfiles

  1. The Senses: Our senses have an intrinsic relationship with Memory and Magnani was trying to explore the same through this series.
  2. Remembering What’s Meaningful: There is always a conflict between personal meanings and memory. This had become Magnani’s obsession too and thus found an important part of the series.
  3. Forgetting: This part was focused on how we often forget and distort our reminiscences. Magnani felt this could help him deconstruct memory.
  4. Faces: So how do we rewind faces and remember them?
  5. Remembering without thinking: There is also a part of the memory which is completely unconscious but become alive in our recollections.
  6. The Brain: How the brain processes these memories and its relationship is what Magnani tried to reflect through this part of the series.
  7. Personal Memory: Here Magnani was talking about himself and his own memories. He feels that there is an intrinsic connection between the self and personal memories.
  8. Shared Memories: Culture also come into play we recollect – our memories are constructed by cultural references and the cultural situation. Magnani in Shared Memories attempted to focus on this strange intersection of culture and memories.

With this exhibit, Magnani had announced his arrival in art. This was way back in 1988. But his journey starts even before. Let’s rewind it a bit just the way Magnani does.

Magnani picks up a brush for the first time

franco magnani

Source: Franco Magnani

Now as we already told you Magnani had not been a child prodigy in painting. He had tried out different ways to earn his livelihood before he moved on to doing something that only few can do – art.

Magnani started getting these weird dreams and flashes of memories. The strange thing about them is that these memories were vivid in nature and he could recount almost everything about his hometown in Pontito, Italy.

What’s stranger is that he had not visited the place for more than 30 years. Magnani then decided to pick up a brush and start giving these images a life – he started painting for the first time.

But that was not exactly how happy the story was. Let us again rewind a bit.

Magnani discovers he has a rare condition known as temporal lobe epilepsy

When Magnani landed in San Francisco, he had already picked up a fever. He thought that it would go away soon but it only became more intense. The fever was concurrent with the vivid dreams and visions he used to see.

He had already started painting but then his condition worsened. He had to rush to a doctor after going through a terrible seizure. Doctors did later find the connection between the high fever and the memories.

According to them, it was the high fever that triggered a temporal lobe epilepsy and this was why he got the seizure and the memories. Magnani soon would recover and start giving life to his imagery from his childhood.


Source: Franco Magnani

Magnani was initially dismissed by critics

Nobody believed him when he said that these were images right from photographic memory. So until Susan Schwartzenberg decided to travel to Pontito and find out if he is genuine, art critics usually dismissed him.

To Susan’s utter surprise, Magnani was, in fact, saying the truth. Susan clicked the image of Pontito from the same angle as Magnani painted it and put it next to the painting to verify Magnani’s claims of his photographic memory.

It was a brilliant move because now people could see the real photograph and a painting and compare them – the difference was what memory actually is.


Source: Lifecoachcode

A sneak peek into Magnani’s childhood which became his reference for his paintings

Magnani had four siblings. He was brought up by his mother and the family had to face severe hardship all along after his father had died in the war.

But the interesting thing about Magnani’s photographic memory is that he doesn’t quite remember the days of suffering. What he remembers is a sense of sustenance which motivated the family to move on.

another painting


The secret behind his splendid art works

Magnani makes use of sensory memory. It is only this memory that keeps a log of our visual information. For most of us, this memory is short term. But thanks to the mysterious illness, Magnani had to suffer, he got endowed with long-term sensory memory.

His aesthetics at best is an aesthetics of memory and its intricate design. Nostalgia is a wonderful feeling and Magnani takes us right there.

at workSource: Franco Magnani

This Man Found His Creative Genius After Going Through a Rare Form of Epilepsy
Rate this post