Born on the 19th of July 1943 in Pallonetto, one of the picturesque slums in Naples, Master Alfonso Palma is the firstborn of seven children. When he was a boy he began to study electrical engineering (university – electronics high school) which he finished despite his father’s premature death.
Even though he was still only a boy, the event of his father’s death required him to be further loaded with responsibility. He spent his days alternating between his studies and work, often accompanying his electrician grandfather, and committing himself to the local realities offered to a young and inexperienced boy.
This series of events matured him in such a way that it brought him closer to the truest aspects of life and the reality of existence, developing in him a sensibility and simplicity which still mark him today.
Meanwhile, he began to mature and grow in his first and various working experiences, such as the designing of wirings around the town. After a period of three years spent as engine-driver for a railroad, the doors opened for an opportunity at the Alfa Romeo Company of Pomigliano D’Arco. During this time, the rhythms of both work- and familiar-life (he married in 1971 and later had three children) slowed down but did not extinguish his true passion: painting.
Finally he had the opportunity to meet the person who would ultimately be his biggest teacher, Professor Roberto Carbone. A family doctor, having realized Alfonso’s skill and aptitude for drawing, Carbone would become his guiding spirit and mentor, sustaining and accompanying Alfonso into the boundless world of oil painting.
As author of “The Composition of Painting” (Miller 1984), Roberto Carbone would be able to charm and then lead Alfonso towards “la pittura en plein aire” (painting in the open air), a field where the artist, armed with a spatula, confronts himself with a world of endless stimuli to be reduced into the narrow confines of a canvas, where nothing is set at random and where masses and colours give order to the chaos of events.
Sundays and any day-off stolen from the rhythms of the factory were good occasions for loading up a box and easel, along with a friend, and wandering up and down the roads and parks of a sleepy Naples, searching for moments of rapture before a spot of colour, a protruding root or a neglected farmhouse.
This association sprang forth a hundred intense works which today represent a special period for the artist, Alfonso Palma. A period in which he was able to reach levels of production never touched before, and that can be undoubtedly considered as the greatest expression of his painting en plein aire.
In the twenty years from 1970 to 1990, the tones of his painting production are never the same: they open themselves to a variety of riches that refuse any cataloguing, expressing the creative freedom acquired and the boundless vital energy that prevail on financial straits, leading the artist to translate his emotions into images and colours, feelings and sensations.
His works do not hide strong and sometimes destructive emotions, but also leave one who observes with a hope and a light which lead beyond loneliness, fading any social roles and conventions.
The premature death of his teacher and now friend, Roberto, resurfaces despondency and a sense of paradox that subverts the constituted order and allows chaos and indifference to prevail.
The pictorial production of the nineties is affected by this new and serious loss. We are in a pictorial and expressive universe undoubtedly different from the previous, where communication becomes more hermetical and metaphysical and where the artist seems to avoid any dialog lifting walls made of overlapped brush-strokes.
The blots and blows of the spatula suggested by the instinct and the impetus of emotion are slowly replaced by more mature reflections at the easel, which gradually move from the road to his studio, just giving expression to never soothed figments. The desire to express these strong feelings of anger and pain and at the same time his failure to set a dialogue with anyone around him – maybe in an attempt to avoid trouble to his family – is also shown in his many poetic works.
At present, Master Alfonso Palma keeps painting actively, producing numerous works of unquestioned value that testify his actual and high artistic level of maturity. His paintings now also appear more serene and relaxed than in the previous decade, and continue to radiate a deep sensation of reflection and wisdom that the painter leaves perpetually open on himself, even before than on reality.