BATTIG RODOLFO (1894 - 1937)

21/03/2020

The painter Rodolfo Battig "Melius" was one of those who contributed to culturally enrich Gorizia in the field of art without achieving great fame. Several of his works are preserved in the Provincial Museums of Gorizia and the Spazzapan Gallery of Gradisca. Born on December 13, 1894, Rodolfo Battig (surname later Italianized in Batti), from a poor family, was able to attend only compulsory school, and then worked as a boy in the printing house Paternolli. Recalled to arms in the Austro-Hungarian army, in 1916 he was taken prisoner in Russia, and there he spent a period of wandering at the end of the World War, before returning to Gorizia. Perhaps the war, perhaps the years of imprisonment had aroused in him a wandering spirit, together with the need for drawing and painting and the impatience for a stable place to live and work. 

Already in 1920, he left for Florence and then for Munich, where he attended painting schools and academic circles, convinced that art was not for self-taught people like him, that it was necessary to learn ways and styles. Back in Gorizia, "Melius" became friends with Sofronio Pocarini, who helped him to set up a personal exhibition in 1929. But he was not very successful. As Biagio Marin, who knew him, remembered, his fellow citizens were "people too sensible" to appreciate him before a resounding triumph imposed him to their admiration. He then moved to Paris, where he stayed from 1930 to 1935, with frequent returns to our city, necessary more to rediscover the memory of his childhood places than to recover from the hardships of the bohemian life he led. From his contacts with the Parisian avant-garde, he gained confidence in himself, in his own spontaneous and naïve painting, of a genre then not appreciated in Italy. He took part in numerous exhibitions, especially abroad: Paris, Vienna, Munich, Berlin, New York, Trieste. In 1935 he settled in Rome, where he exhibited at the Quadriennale; one of his works was purchased by the Galleria d'Arte Moderna. It was finally the success of his primitive style, tempered by meticulous technique, but always fantastic and poetic. And just then, after a brief illness, he died in Rome on 24 January 1937. He is remembered by his stage name, "Melius", the pseudonym in which he concentrated his dissatisfaction and anxiety to improve himself.