HERBERT PAGANI (Libya, Tripoli 1944-1988 / act: USA)

Herbert Pagani Artist and musician Herbert Pagani was born on 25 April 1944 in Tripoli, Libya and died on 16 August 1988 at Palm Beach, USA. His full name was Herbert Avraham Haggiag Pagani and came from a family of Libyan Jews who were italianized by the Colonial Administration. He spent his childhood and adolescence between Italy, Germany and France. This nonstop wandering about different cultures drove him to seek out a personal language that enabled him to do without words, and at the same time to communicate with all, and he found drawing.

1964, Pagani at the age of twenty was introduced to the public and the Press at the Pierre Picard Gallery in Cannes, where he exhibited his Indian-ink drawings and engravings. Among his first Italian buyers were Giorgio Soavi for the Olivetti Collection, Federico Fellini and Bernardo Zapponi. Under the heading: "A twenty-year-old visionary", the French poet Jean Rousselot presented Pagani to a wider public from the pages of Planete. Shortly afterwards, he began to draw for that famous review edited by Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels, becoming one of the youngest exponents of the Realisme fantastique movement.

In 1965 Pagani illustrated Fantarca by Giuseppe Berto for Rizzoli, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for the Club des Amis du Livre.

The boat veers: "Engraving on stone, or vinyl, is the same thing. It is more important to establish one's mental and emotional territory with all available means". Pagani, heir to an age-old history, but feeling rootless, decided to create his own homeland in the materials on which he would leave his mark. He was less interested in a single technique than in investigating the correlation among all the techniques he was to try out. He slipped from drawing to the word, written and then sung, from radio entertainment to creative publicity, from stage-designing to filming: and he realized that "all disciplines of communications are intercommunicating."

His first Italian album was released in 1967. In 1969, the day after the coup d'état, the Libyan police broke into the family's house in Tripoli. A hundred and fifty canvases and drawings were destroyed. His first French album was released in 1970. Pagani designed the covers of his records, and the stage designs of his shows.

In 1971, Pagani's first one-man show opened at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, with Concerto d' Italie: he performed within his drawings, solarized and projected on a huge screen by Laser Graphics Group. This was the first Diaporama staged in Europe. Several other shows were to follow, each one enhanced by new visual techniques.

Using documentaries made available by the Italian Television Corporation, one of them bearing the name of the historian Indro Montanelli, Pagani produced and directed a 27-minute movie-pamphlet in 1973 entitled Venise, amore mio which Unesco defined as "the best vehicle of information on the dangers besetting Venice and its lagoon". French Television broadcast it twice, on Antenne 2.

In 1975, Megalopolis a total-opera, went on stage. The opera is based on Medioevo Prossimo Venturo (The near future middleages) by Roberto Vacca. In order to represent the congestion and collapse of the Energy Systems as described by this Italian futurologist, Pagani proceeded to clone on thousands of images of our civilization using the first two Rank Xerox colour duplicators installed in France and in Italy. These "xerographies" assembled on large plates were photographed, projected and animated in Multimage shows on giant screens. Megalopolis, selected by the French Ministry of Culture for the re-opening of Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadero was then invited to the Festival of the Two Worlds in Spoleto, in 1976. Megalopolis the album also obtained a large success in France from the public and the critics. It received the Grand Prize of Academy Charles Cros the same year.

The success obtained by this show warranted a vacation. Pagani spent it travelling into pure abstraction thanks to the video-synthetizers devised by the French electronics engineer Marcel Dupouy.

In 1978, thanks to the consistent use of these many different techniques, Pagani became an expert on communications, and a creative consultant of important brands such as Philip Morris.

For all that, in all these years, Pagani never neglected paper, pencils, paints and brushes, joined by scrap wood, plastic waste, and other artifacts of the Disposable Society gleaned from beaches and in dumps across Europe. He used them to make sculptures that have been seen in Exhibitions in Milan, Ferrara and Paris.

Herbert Pagani died of leukaemia aged 44.

[Megakles Rogakos 08/2010]