A selection of small works on Fabriano papers (5 x 7″) – almost 350 pieces – completed during two years of isolation within an elegant 17th Century Palazzo in Vicenza, Italy, where Andrea Palladio had lived and worked.
It was during a deep crisis in my life that I accepted the job as companion/caretaker of a very wealthy lady who had been diagnosed with beginning Alzheimer’s disease and whose husband had separated from her. She lived alone on the palazzo’s huge ‘piano nobile‘ and a cleaning lady and a chauffeur were her only company. A friend of mine had spent some time with Signora O. but had to leave, so she suggested me as her successor. I was a perfect candidate for the job at that time since my own life had reached a critical crossroad. I accepted this job on the condition that I could paint sometimes and during the job interview with the lady’s husband, I was assured that I could paint as much as I wanted, provided Signora Olga would be nearby always. I moved into this fabulous palazzo that seemed out of an Italian novel, to keep her company and take care of her. Indeed, it was often scenes out of a Fellini film, with the ghosts of many famous visitors who had once been guests there still lingering in the palazzo’s many frescoed rooms. ‘Olga’ – as she asked me to call her to make the reason for my staying with her less obvious to Vicenza’s high society of which she had been a prominent member for so long and which now had practically forgotten her – in her lucid moments ‘helped’ with the titles of some of these works, giving us both many reasons for good laughs. In fact, the experience of living in that splendid surrounding and taking care of Olga has helped me, too, with healing some of my own issues and taking myself much less seriously. I stayed two entire years in that golden cage, and the memories of it will stay with me forever. Signora Olga has lost the battle with her illness since then.