I am walking through the Van Erkom Arcade, taking a short cut from Schoeman Street via Pretorius Street, on my way to Church Square. The mosaic on the Eastern wall, halts me in my tracks. The sheer size of it takes my breath away. Could be 30 m x 2m, I am thinking. Abstract animals conspire and mesmerize, forcing me to postpone my intended appointment.
I instantly fall in love with the handiwork of Armando Baldinelli. He was born on the 13th of September 1908 in Ancona, Italy. Maybe the death of his wife Gianna in the early 1950’s as well as a turbulent post war Italy, led to his decision to visit South Africa in 1953. He decided to stay and I am happy he did.
My eyes feast on the colour as well as the texture of the work he called “Mosaic Mural”…done in 1971 and enjoyed by me in 2011, I think he would have loved that.
Suddenly I need to find more of the magnificent artwork of Armando Baldinelli that adorn my beloved city. Next stop: the State Theatre. Going up the stairs to the Baldinelli foyer, I had no idea what to expect. To say that the 97m₂ overwhelms me, is putting it mildly. He named it “The Wings and The Waves of Music “ and it soars and crashes into my senses.
Finished 31 years ago, I am awestruck and I think he would have loved that.
And the dedicatition brings it all back to a more human scale.
My homage to Armando Baldinelli ends at the Seminary of St John Vianney in Waterkloof. In 1960 he was commissioned to do “The Stations of the Cross” for their chapel and as I open the heavy wooden door, I stand transfixed. The 14 small panels, are achingly beautiful. Such simple lines to illustrate the suffering of Christ.
In the side altars, 8 Saints keep a watchful eye, my favourite being St Patrick.
The Madonna and the Angels were added in 1967 by the mosaic master.
All is quiet and I am sitting in the back pew, enriched and dazzled and I know he would have loved that !!
Grazie Armando, RIP.