Franco Azzinari was born in San Demetrio Corone, in the province of Cosenza, on March 3, 1949. After the death of his parents, at the age of fourteen, he left Calabria and started a real journey of personal growth across Europe. For several years he lived in Paris, where the great Impressionist painters, particularly Gauguin, Van Gogh and Monet, fascinated him. The three prestigious artists would have a major influence on his artistic future. In France, for a living, Azzinari started to make portraits for tourists on the street.
In 1973 he moved to Lerici (La Spezia) where he made ten tables on the region Liguria. In 1974, again in Lerici, at the gallery La Cattedrale Azzinari had his first solo exhibition, which would officially begin his artistic career. In the same year, Azzinari opened in Milan a studio-gallery. In 1977 he began a series of trips to the Far East in search of the footsteps of ancient Asian civilizations. The following years were characterized by significant experiences in the United States, in the Seychelles Islands and in Brazil. Over the years he has earned many authoritative and prestigious awards. His works are now part of important Italian and foreign collections.
In 1992, during a trip to Cuba, Azzinari found in the characters and in the countryside of the island the same colors of his native land. For Azzinari it is love at first sight, and the beginning of a series of extraordinary meetings. He depicted Hemingway’s sailor Gregorio Fuentes, President Fidel Castro, who posed for the artist, the musician Compay Segundo, and paintings of the sunny Cuban countryside and still life. In 2001, the works produced in Cuba were published in a book printed by the publishing house Electa, of Milan, after first being exhibited at the National Museum in Havana and later in several Italian cities.
In the same year Azzinari, interested by Greek mythology, went to visit the places where the gods of antiquity lived. He painted The Cradle of Apollo (Island of Delos), Isthmus of Corinth (Peloponnese), The Bay of Poseidon (Cape Sounion), The Bay of Ulysses (Ithaca). Meanwhile, the Municipal Government of Altomonte (Cosenza) gave to Master Azzinari the spaces of Tower Pallotta, a monument of Norman origin, which dates back to 1052. In this ancient structure, on June 2, 2002, the Franco Azzinari Museum officially opened with the collection Twenty Years with Nature, which consists of forty of the most significant works made by the artist. Within the Azzinari Museum there are four rooms dedicated to the Cuban paintings.
In more recent years Azzinari, fascinated by the life of Ernest Hemingway, he retraces the steps of the American writer depicting the places and people he loved in Cuba, Kenya and Tanzania. In December 2008, the University of Calabria organized an exhibition at Aula Magna, its Great Hall, accompanied by a catalog entitled Azzinari. Looking for Hemingway. In 2010 the Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, the painting exhibition Looking for Hemingway at the Tower of the Hemingway Museum of Finca Vigía, Havana, for the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the famous American writer. In December of the same year, during a meeting with his writer friend, the idea of the exhibition Expressions of García Márquez was born. It includes twenty portraits dedicated to the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, which were exhibited in Havana from December 8, 2011 to January 8, 2012 at the Cine Latino Americano Foundation.
In July 2012, at the Casa del Alba Cultural de La Habana, Franco Azzinari and Alex Castro organized the exhibition El Rostro de la Historia, a homage dedicated by the two artists to Fidel Castro for his 86rd birthday. In October of the same year, Azzinari exhibited his collection about the wind in the show Winds of the Mediterranean in Rome at the Complesso Monumentale dei Dioscuri at Quirinale.
From May 20 to June 28, 2013, the exhibition Looking for Hemingway will be set up at the Scollay Square Gallery and the Mayor’s Gallery at Boston City Hall. This event is included in the program of the “2013 – Year of Italian Culture in the United States”, promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C.