2009-06-23 "Hidden talents: surreal details of the lives of the `ordinary folk´ ", by Rob Dennis

Few would argue that the Italians are passionate people, rarely hesitant to express themselves in whatever way they deem fit. Alfredo De Guiseppe´s Hidden Art lays out a platform for four such exuberant souls, lovers of life who escape their humdrum realities with fervent outpourings of their creative essence. We have the horticulturalist cum folk poet, the plasterer who compulsively models strange miniature enclaves, the level crossing signalman who not only paints à la Pollock but also composes verse in praise of his creator (who also, troublingly, appears to refer to

himself in the third person) and finally, the hospital orderly who has discovered her talent for the stage, craving challenging roles and risking her reputation by taking on the role of (gasp) a lesbian detective.

Hidden Art celebrates this world of the Sunday painter and the outsider poet. There is little in the way of sniggering cynicism, or knowing irony (that said, our orderly´s final performance in the play "Spoon River", is unlikely meant to be taken with a straight face). This is film about people who give little thought to the fickle opinions and fads of mainstream society, who create out of love and nothing else. As a document of people refusing to conform to homogenised standards, Hidden Art could be seen as a companion to Raymond Depardon Modern Life, which lovingly

documented the idiosyncrasies of the French farming community. Like Depardon, De Guiseppe allows his subjects the time and space to open up and indulge their whimsies. Perhaps another fitting precedent would be the great British chronicler Humphrey Jennings´ Spare Time, a film that artfully represented the non-work lives of a generation long ago. Following Jennings, De Guiseppe revels in the surreal details of the lives of the `ordinary folk´, and lovingly preserves them on film.

Away from their prosaic existences in the day-to-day grind, these big hearted characters can truly be themselves. It may not be masterpieces they are creating, but, frankly, who cares...

Rob Dennis

London-based film writer



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