Life is short,
man is a hunter,
and we’ll be dead for too long
Freak Antoni tells that Andrea was the type of guy who wouldn’t be surprised if, by opening the window one morning, he could find an ufo.
“I am excited by the idea of living a fake life, where practically I have a fake weapon room, where there’s nothing real, right?”
Born in San Benedetto Del Tronto, in the province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy, on May 23, 1956, Andrea makes his first recognisable drawing when he is only 18 months.
Probably of noble heritage and spanish origin — Patientia —, his family passes him an aristocratic way of being and moving through the provincialism of social life, with that little bit of extravagance from his father Enrico — to Andrea, “the most notable watercolorist I know” — that makes him, even now, “the rockstar” of the italian comic.
A powerful fragile essence, “without defense, without skin”, an eternal boy who had a huge hit with the girls, at parties, but who suffered the darkest experiences “as a St. Sebastian fraught with markers,” tells his ex-girlfriend and muse of a lifetime, Elisabetta Pellerano.
At the age of 12 he goes to live all alone in Pescara, to study. Here, the first comics and his relationship with Visca — the art teacher he will draw in one of his series — come to life. In Pescara he also knows Tanino Liberatore, with whom he will collaborate for underground magazines such as Cannibale and Frigidaire: “You could see he was intelligent,” says Tanino, “but, at the same time, like all kids, you could see also that he was a pain in the ass”.
Andrea is attracted to danger. And to weapons. As a child, he goes hunting with his father, his job is going to take the prey, and finish it, as he tells in one of his most touching stories, Una estate.
His friend and colleague Marcello D’Angelo tells that one summer he’s sitting at a bar, trying to move as little as possible, because of the great heat, when he sees Andrea coming with his closed jean jacket. Marcello says him, “sorry but, with this heat, the jacket…” So he opens it and he has a 7.65 Beretta under his arm. They shot around the fields, then they go to a seedy area of Naples to get them more munitions.
Andrea Pazienza comes in Bologna in 1974 to join the DAMS — Art school —, but he will soon completely absorbed by the work of cartoonist and he never graduates. Just one exam before the finish, but he’s not so sure to face Umberto Eco. Here, he will live the intense years of student riots of “1977”, half trying to participate, half drawing until “everyone loved Andrea Pazienza”, both as a person and a great artist.
In this period he creates his most famous stories and characters as Pentothal and Zanardi, and meets and works with artists as Pier Vittorio Tondelli, Freak Antoni, Vincenzo Sparagna, Filippo Scòzzari, Stefano Tamburini and Massimo Mattioli. He will start teaching and using drugs more frequently.
“Angels dance, angels die”, The Doors sing, and as a cursed angel, so sensitive and self-aware, Andrea knows that he will die young. Once, accompanying his friend Marcello, Andrea tells him “please, write about these things, write about me when I’m gone”. On that occasion, Andrea is desperately referring to his drunk side and his relationship with “wanted criminals”:
“I’m at the mercy of the dregs of the planet, of the worst people, and I spend most of my time between them, I give respect to shit, I allow anyone to bother me, as long as he has the stuff… and I was once so finicky…”
In 1984 he moves to Montepulciano, in the quiete side of Tuscany, and marries Marina Comandini: “The story with Andrea overwhelmed me. I challenge anyone to work beside a pure genius. He taught me many things, but, above all, not to take myself too seriously. Maybe my artistic production may have reflected, at least in terms of quantity, but I know I have learned to live better, which is the ultimate goal for each of us”.
In Montepulciano, Andrea completes his masterpiece and testament, the illustrated poem Pompeo, and lives the rest of his days working, hiking with his crossbow and suffering a little bit for his distance from Bologna.
On the evening of June 15, 1988, he is at home, with Marina and a friend. During the day he has been to Rome, to obtain the costumes for the part in the film Cavalli si nasce. Once back, he plans to celebrate in his own way. He makes a few phone calls to procure heroin, but he cannot find it. He puts his mind at ease. Late in the evening they recall telling him that the stuff is there, so, almost reluctantly, he comes out to go and get it. He comes back, enters the bathroom on the ground floor and doesn’t go out anymore.
“With Federico Fellini we often spoke about him, he was one of our pupils, one of our loves, one of our favorite topics. Fellini, in fact, used him for the poster of City of Women. I would have loved to have him as an actor because he was wonderful, he had an extraordinary face, watching him made me a great joy. He was just the childish spirit of the street urchin, pure intelligence in every sense”. Roberto Benigni
His father wanted him to be a painter, but Andrea becomes “the best living artist”. The author of Pompeo.
As well as visiting various exhibitions and the places of his life in Bologna and Tuscany, Dioniso Punk was lucky to see some of his original stuff thanks to his wife Marina Comandini, on occasion of our video documentary, Art Project.