Invisibìlia: il racconto Vangog

Invisibìlia: il racconto Vangog

Please scroll down to read the complete story of Vangog (without the “h”, exactly!) in English.

Versione italiana

Vangog "a", il dipinto. Credits Andrea Ciresola

VANGOG “a” è un dipinto acrilico e inchiostro su cartone telato. Il racconto è interamente scritto a mano sul dipinto e la parte dipinta è copia di una delle
850 ideocromie che decorano le copertine del testo stampato
di Andrea Ciresola

Ogni tanto qualcuno  fermava le mani e per pochi secondi distendeva lo sguardo al di là della foglia, oltre il grappolo se grappolo c’era, verso il cunicolo naturale che il vitigno disegnava con la maestria del creatore.

Era una campagna perfetta, di colline e alberi e filari, con un tetto di stelle da far invidia all’universo quando era notte. E dentro quel paradiso la gente coltivava l’uva su vigneti che sembravano di ambra tanto era lo scintillio della natura quando incontrava il sole. E di notte comete, stelle, e luna con i suoi saros, eclissi e mari senza acqua.

Mai nome fu più azzeccato per quei luoghi e per quel vino. Deve essere stato qualche ignoto viaggiatore del Trecento a pensarci, una di quelle persone così intente a guardare il mondo che si dimenticavano di mangiare, di dormire o di baciare le donne. Quel marco polo della pianura veneta deve averlo detto, ad un certo punto, che un luogo così Soave non si poteva ritrovare in nessuna altra regione del mondo.

Il racconto continua su questo link.
Vangog ha un sua musica originale, creata da Gabriele Posenato. Potete ascoltarla qui (track#10).
In copertina: Ideocromia per la copertina n° 16/zero

English version


By Andrea Ciresola

Vangog "a", the painting. Credits Andrea Ciresola

VANGOG “a” is a painting in acrylic and ink on linen carton. The entire story is hand-written on the painting and the painted part is a copy of one of 850 ideocromias, or cover-images used on the printed text.
by Andrea Ciresola

We stopped picking and, just for a few seconds, gazed beyond the leaves, beyond the bunches of grapes and the one hanging just there, towards the natural tunnel the vines formed under the mastery of the Creator.

The area was just perfect – hills, trees and row upon row of vines all lay beneath a star spangled sky, the envy of the whole universe. Right in the heart of that paradise, we picked grapes from the vines, grapes that seemed to be made of amber so great was the sparkle of Nature as they caught the sunlight. And at night the light came from comets, stars and the moon with its craters eclipses and waterless seas.

There was no name better for those places or that wine. Some unknown traveller in the 12th Century must have thought of it. One so intent on observing the world that food, sleep and embracing were forgotten. That Veneto-plain-style Marco Polo must have said, at a certain point, that such a “suave” Soave place could not be found in any other region of the world.

It was indeed the story of Marco Polo that Vangog used to tell, one of those very few things he actually said when he shut himself up for years and years in his brick house and painted the surrounding countryside.

The poor elderly couple had called him “Vangog” when they found him wrapped up in the pages of the culture section of a local paper. The tiny boy, abandoned beneath a row of garganega vines, crying as only newborn babes can, had his tiny face pressed up against the photos showing a recently opened exhibition in the city: Van Gogh and the Impressionists.

And who are they?

she asked, looking at the newspaper damp with the morning dew. Her husband had no answer.

So on 13th December, the feast of Santa Lucia, the baby had opened his eyes on life to see a painting by Van Gogh on exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art. The elderly couple didn’t even think of giving him a name for some time, until the moment when the little boy began to use his finger to paint landscapes directly on the floor planks using coffee grounds, yolks of rotten eggs and crushed vine leaves. So they called him Vangog. After the one in the newspaper which had been his very first nanny. Vangog.

- without the H.

I met him the day of the old folks’ funeral, his foster parents, and that was the last time he left that house set deep in the country, in that land of vines and cherry trees. He must have been about twenty then and the church and the cemetery alike were unfamiliar to him.

He preferred the country and in that sense we were alike, only I had started work in a winery that had produced 8,700 bottles of wine that year ,while he just painted all day long; – leaves, hills, sky, valleys and streams.

What about the vineyards?

I asked him.

Who’s looking after them?

He just shrugged his shoulders without saying a word.

His house, his home, with its small fireplace and its wooden floors and ceilings, was crammed full of his paintings, all having the same subject – the surrounding countryside, unexpected views, seen through gaps in walls, bits of landscape making their way into rooms.

You could give me one of your paintings by painting the labels for my bottles?

I asked.

Bring me a dozen of your bottles then,

he replied.

The next day I went to see him and took my wine, but he didn’t stop working even for a moment. He was painting the wall at the back of the tiny kitchen and had moved everything. I waited in vain to speak to him. One hour, two … while the vines flowered on that wall as if part of it and they blended into the background of the living vines I could see from the window. I left the bottles on the table, having discovered a new meaning of mystery.

Grape harvest time came and no one spared a thought for Vangog, seduced as we were by the blond yellow light that filled the vineyards. Flashes of dawn light on each leaf, pearls wrapped in the cotton of the mist hanging over each branch. Green, a fond memory now, had given way to yellow and soon this would turn the bright airy spirals into red.

My own grape harvest rushed to a close. My vineyards are but few.

I went back to Vangog. Outside the house, under the wisteria covered pergola were eleven bottles, each with its own label painted in soft colours, my name and the name of my wine: Nectar. Nectar of the gods. Did Vangog know any Latin?

Dawn, zenith, sunset, the whole landscape in the labels …..

Is there not one bottle missing?

I objected.

What do you think I dilute the paint with?

he asked.


Vangog painted with wine.

Stepping into the house was like walking out into the vineyard, such was the perfection of his art. Layer upon layer, the paintings changed with the rhythm of the seasons, first the bare twigs of the vines, then covered with leaves in March, and then the first bunches of grapes. Small ones. And changes like this until the silence of November burst through after the bedlam of grape harvest. Then fog and the last bunch waiting to make holy wine. Vin Santo is made from the very last grapes to be picked. In the background the grey sky filled with cold shivers then made way for the intense blue of a sweaty summer.

I wasn’t sure if Nature dictated the changing seasons, or whether, instead, Vangog had a hand in that magic…..

We were friends for a while.

Few words. What was there inside that man?

He always found time to paint the labels of my bottles by hand. One thousand, two thousand, as if it were nothing, but if it must be known, the fame of these labels flew round the world and made my fortune for me.

One day I was invited to take my “nectar of the gods” to New York for a wine tasting which was to be held during an exhibition of hyper-realist paintings in a museum.

They said that Howard Kanovitz was the greatest artist of the century and his paintings, peeling crumbling walls, chrome plated motorbikes leaning against traffic lights, trash cans in desolate streets, did indeed leave you awestruck, but they lacked the soul of Vangog’s walls. I told Kanovitz so.

Listen, Eyetie,

he said in his American slang,

y’all got fantastic wine but you dunno nothing about art…

I picked up a bottle and showed him the label.

Vangog paints like this!

The man was speechless !

In that 5cm by 5cm painting the images moved as if in a film, clouds chased each other like sheep running over a field. The sun rose and then set. Kanovitz saw the season change from winter to summer. Now, that was hyper-realism!

A silence fell over the museum.

Where’s the catch?

asked the American.

No catch, just all in Vangog’s mind,

I said.

I don’t believe it. Art and painting comes from a steady hand, lengthy study and application.

If you’re right,

I replied,

I’ll supply you with my wine for the rest of your life.

The next week Howard Kanovitz was there, at my door, with his French lady on his arm, and in even more of a fighting spirit than ever.

You’d better get ready to supply me with wine for the next 50 years…….

he said.

The whole village, who by now knew the story, accompanied us up the path which led to Vangog’s house. Corinne, in her high-heels and with her Chanel No. 5 looked like a goddess. But those vineyards had imagined so much more.

Vangog was waiting for them in front of the open door to his house.

The American and Corinne went in without even a greeting.

Vangog closed the door behind him.

It was midday on the 3rd of September, and for three days and three nights the door remained closed. Now the whole village knew the meaning of mystery. The conclave was finallly dissolved at 3:47 pm on the 7th, in a world ever so still and holding its breath. The door flew back and the American stepped out, a startled look on his face.


I asked.

He said nothing but laid his right hand on the ground and, as if by magic, as it came in contact with the earth, with its grass, mud and stones, it disappeared.

I bent over to look. His hand had been so well painted that it blended into the background of the earth.

Who did that?

I asked.


he replied.

We lost track of that American and from that day on Vangog found his tongue. He told me stories about invisibile cities, of unreachable women, and of Corinne, given up for lost in that house. I sometimes caught a glimpse of her pearly smile in a body painted like the sky, like grapes, like all God’s gifts.

On the day Vangog used up every square centimetre of her skin, he died.

In that house, a faint lingering whiff of Chanel No. 5 was all that betrayed her presence, but no one ever found her body hidden in the landscapes.

Vangog has also its soundtrack created by Gabriele Posenato. You can listen to it here (track #10).
Cover image: Ideocromia for the cover no. 16/zero
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One Response to Invisibìlia: il racconto Vangog

  1. Elisa Da Rin Puppel 23 dicembre 2012 at 10:30

    Plasson, il pittore in Oceano Mare di Baricco, dipingeva il mare con il mare…Vangog dipinge la vita con il vino, nettare degli Dei…
    lui vede, non guarda,
    sente, non percepisce.

    E tenendo tra le mani una delle limitatissime copie del racconto in acrilico ed inchiostro su cartone telato, vi scorro sopra i polpastrelli delle dita, percependone le venature…come vale la pena fare con ogni singolo giorno.

    Grazie Andrea, grazie Vangog!


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