Monday, January 2, 2017




As our planet makes it s journey around a star we call the sun, I make my own journey in paintings. Each week I will present some aspect of our shared life experience through a medium of paint on canvas.

"Old men ought to be explorers."
                                 T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets




    Pappulia - A Neopolitan word { pronounced pap- pu- li-a} that refers to the slow simmer
                    of a ragu cooking on the stove. The word mimics the sound of the sauce
                    slowly bubbling.



Almost every morning Elizabeth and I have coffee at Aldo and Daniela's Bar Gallo in Piazza Umberto I in Panicale. Grabbing a coffee at Aldo's is no small or quick matter. Everyone greets each other with a " Buongiorno" or will engage you with 
'una chiacchierata', or chitchat. What is intended to be a quick coffee can take over an hour.


Nearly everyday I notice a couple come into the bar as regulars. I was told that she was English and he was an Italian who was a cook at a local agriturismo. Her name is Ruth, a sustainable agriculturist and his name is Tonino, short for Antonio, a name of endearment given to him by his mother. We all soon became friends and I was captivated by Tonino's gregarious demeanor. I knew that I had to paint his portrait and to my surprise he was delighted and would also tutor me in Italian. So, I set out to create a visual biography...
but not without some mistakes.


At first I wanted to have him holding a rather large chef's knife.
Big mistake.... with a frown he immediately expressed his displeasure,
" James, this knife is for a butcher! I am a cook! I work with a paring knife!"
O.K. lets just take out the knives. Fortunately it was wild asparagus season and Katia had just brought over a large bunch her father had just picked. Tonino started to fondle it like a bridal bouquet and I knew that I had the right substitute.


"Everything must be done with passion."
-Antonio Loffa

Tonino is also a sculptor of light, lamps that is. To commemorate our coffees together, I commissioned him to make a lamp pit of a Moka coffee maker that I could bring bake to the States. His studio is wild with lamps made out of every sort of found object, carburetors, tomato cans, etc.

Tonino's Studio

He is also a musician, duly noted by the harmonica he habitually carries with him. He asked if I could include it. Of course.



All around him I painted objects directly related to his profession. Food, a mortar and pestle, a can of tuna I gave to him from a trip to Sardinia and a flower from Ruth's garden. It delighted him that I chose not to include any culinary 'machines' as he is from the old school and prefers simple implements. Remember the paring knife? 
So now the portrait is complete.

"Voglio presentare il mio amico, Tonino"
"I would like to introduce my friend, Tonino."

Tonino Loffa, Cook from Carife (Av)
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 33" x 26", 2016-17

Copyright 2017 James Aponovich

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I love this painting for how it tells a story about Tonino in every detail. I have to believe that the basket/halo around his head was intentional. It makes him seem like "everyman" only he is "everycook" but more importantly he is what every cook would like to be. Intuitive, passionate, creative . . .I would love to taste his food sometime. I am sure it is an experience, like the coffee in Aldos, that takes a lot of time and includes lots of friends.