From the start, Michael Ruffini had a passion for art, a passion for life in all its lush shapes, color drama and conflicting images.
As a boy, he was captivated by the light-shadows transforming his village surroundings from the familiar to the mysterious.
Images in the market crowd inspired his quick sketches using school room chalk. No flat surface was safe from his expressive mischief; a cobblestone path, a rough wall or a poster for a Hollywood western. One day his abstract scribble on the rump of a standing horse drew crowd laughter and applause; shortly followed by a swift lash from the angry owner. Brief fame turned to reality tears until a kind merchant presented Michael with a blank sketchbook and the Artist was born.
By age 6, his sketches had won local competitions. His teacher persuaded monks in a nearby order to instruct Michael in the secrets of color mixture and the tactile art of clay molding.
In time, Ruffini studied the Old Masters. He traveled throughout Italy haunting the museums and galleries. Sitting for hours, examining the legendary brushstrokes as the available daylight altered the paintings impact. He memorized the techniques to enrich his own craft.
Ruffini’s journey of self discovery led to ancient and modern Greece. He befriended the locals, absorbing the culture that spawned the classic architecture of Athena. His paintings took on a rainbow of native landscapes and the richness of cultural dance.
Continuing across the patchwork continent, every border opened to a new rhythm. The French had Paris and an arrogant rhyme. The bold Spanish kept their private time. Ruffini found fellow artists in every sidewalk café where vibrant life was underway and American music was there to stay.
In Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands the colors felt muted or somber as though war newsreels were still reflected in the blank eyes of the very old while the young push forward to a brighter day. Ruffini’s work recorded stark black and white with only a faint burst of color. Returning to the quiet Italian countryside after the long sojourn, Ruffini needed time to digest all that he had witnessed and learned. He had matured and his unique gifts were taking on fresh shapes in his personal evolution.
He distilled his travel experience to the most memorable and influential moments. The up close viewing of the great 20th century modernists; Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Cezanne, Dali, etc. He trembled with wonder and gratitude. Was it the singular imagination of these ground shaking visionaries; their audacity entering a brand new century of industrial technology or just the risk of leaving the ways of the bygone Masters?
Ruffini wanted that freedom. The new expressionism for the 21st century was taking shape in quantum physics and beyond the realm of sensory perspective to a higher plateau where only the seeker dares portray.
His work embodies the courage to bring powerful truth to a field of action. Ruffini allows a glimpse into the vortex that swirls about the planet and pulsates through all life forms.
This is Ruffini’s palette of vision for those ready to see.
His studio filled with monumental sculptures cast in cold steel are abstract yet as simple as a familiar embrace.
Via a lengthy London stay, Ruffini finally comes to New York for his first gallery show in Greenwich Village. He wanders the canyons of Manhattan where culture changes on every corner. The sheer force of the city says ‘keep moving or get out of the way.’ He seeks the comfort of the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Immediately he is confronted by a huge rectangular canvas. The explosion of giant calla lilies trumpets something extraordinary. The banner proclaims Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit.
Barely aware of her name, Michael Ruffini had never seen the grandeur of this petite woman artist, pictured beside decades of her vast and brilliant individualism. He trembles with gratitude, just as he had viewing the Modernists at the Louvre. O’Keeffe’s sensual capture of flora, the clay shadowed desert mountains, the brilliant light-streams made her Desert a paradise in the Southwest. Ruffini wasn’t a religious man but he felt he was in a room of divine spirit brought through human hands with a mission.
He was reminded of that profound boyhood day when his chalk-in-hand placed an abstract cowboy on the rump of a horse. He could still hear the applause followed by pain.
He stood there in front of O’Keeffe and applauded. Soon others in the museum joined in the tribute. He understood her pain. He decided then he must explore the United States and discover the art of America.
Ruffini currently lives and has his studio Palm Springs, California.