Bernardino Toppi


In homage to those critics who unfortunately have passed away ...


Ah ! this strange painter Toppi.
While others make strenuous efforts searching for originality, and in believing they have found new styles create only banalities, artificialities and clichés, here is an artist that quite naturally, without forcing himself, driven on by some unknown force or instinct, almost naively, offers a clear and understandable painting to us, a painting that is easily accessible and distinctly superior to other works of today.

What makes Toppi so original is that, at hearth, he does not want to be original and is satisfied just by offering us simple things.

“Vêtu de probité candide”, completely and utterly honest, he paints daily life without bothering in the least to find out if the stories he portrays for himself, and us, will please.

But is not that, in essence, true painting ?

To paint for oneself, paint one’s feelings and impressions, go straight ahead in the direction that one’s feelings leads one, just be oneself, able to leave to others the task of addressing a message to humanity, constructing a chapel, or inventing a system.

His themes ? Everything that appears around him : human beings, objects, events.

His gestures, his style, his way of expressing himself ? Reduced to the essential, familiar, with a touch of ingenuousness that flavours them even more, the whole filled with a king of poetry, to which we are all the more sensitive because of its artlessness.

If I would have to define the painting of Toppi in one word, the overwhelming feeling is : tenderness. Tenderness in the themes and tenderness in the form, the tenderness of a good man that stretches out his hands not to receive, but to give, and who only feels rich because he shares his wealth with others.

Yes, the painting of Toppi is indeed stimulating.

In this modern world that is, and insists on being, so tough, his painting is like a glimpse of blue sky, caught sight of from the depth of the labyrinth, or the drop of water that soothes the fevered brow.

Without force, and even without seeking it, through his tender and serene painting. Toppi has found the key to our hearts, to which he brings, every day renewed, happiness, pleasure and peace.

André Flament
(Tipografica San Paolo - Tivoli - Italie)



Without a doubt one of his kind, Bernardino Toppi paints frescos on canvas that has previously been covered with a thin coat of plaster.

He immobilises time, which seems to be suspended in his great works, full of mystery or mysticism.
Even when he represents a market… the donkeys riders in Sicily … or the red orchestras, the artist never conforms to trivial detail, because the subject, stripped to the extreme, is for him a pretext for a symphony of colours as subtle as they are delicate, within a line that is reduced to its very essence …

… This fresco painting, economical with means, sparing with effects to the point of asceticism, carries us into a world of the barely perceptible and of reminiscence somewhere between visible and invisible and which magically vanishes into thin air when you look at it.


Marc Hérissé
(La Gazette de l’Hôtel Drouot)


The painting of Toppi has the virtue of being timeless and universal.

Immobilising his anonymous figures in time, this painter could have been one of the artists in Pompeii, a miniaturist, or a 15th century fresco painter. He is himself, with a deliberate absence of perspective, with his black, ochre, yellow, pink and mat grey backgrounds punctuated with delicate iridescence.
Subtly crafted in half tones where clear and impersonal atmospheres simmer.
Banishing pure colour, with some hide outlined views, without shadows where flat tints are primordial, he delights us with trombonists in the village band, with peasants in the fields of Fra Angelico; he goes down into the forum in the middle of the street merchants. A primitive vision of figures persistent in their modesty, an amazing picture that does not belong to any school - In that Toppi is a great artist.

Guy Vignoht
(extract from his book “La Jeune Peinture : 1941-1961”)



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