Giovanni Mazza was born in Rome on July 16, 1934. He spent his youth in the characteristic district of Trastevere until the sixties. Fascinated by the figure, he began portraying his peers and playmates at a very young age. Noticed by the elderly and established painter G. Ferrazza, he found in him the first guide to the study of the human figure and was introduced by him to the artistic environment of the district that has its beating heart in the art studios in Via Orti d'Aliberti. These are meeting places not only for local painters and sculptors, but also for architects, men of letters, musicians with whom Giovanni Mazza extends his cultural experiences.
These are the years in which the artistic, intellectual and social commitment is fertile, which is also reflected in the lively discussions of the group of Via Orti d'Aliberti with the birth of the brilliant initiative - proposed by the sculptor M. Capezzuoli and the painter G. Ragogna "Art in the Quarter" and realized at the headquarters of the section of the Italian Socialist Party in the Triumphal Quarter. A very successful event to which many well-known names such as R. Guttuso, Omiccioli, Gianpistone and others adhere; on this occasion, for the first time Giovanni Mazza is mentioned by an art critic in the Giornale d'Italia as an "unpublished draughtsman to remember", experiences and friendships that are the basis for the artistic training of Giovanni Mazza.
A further impulse and consolidation towards artistic maturity, Mazza receives it during the period in which he attends Maestro Beppe Assenza's studio: a teaching that is always alive in him and for which he feels he must express his perennial gratitude. Later, Giovanni Mazza took part in numerous exhibitions, including the picturesque outdoor exhibitions in Via Margutta in Rome and, later, in 1958, at the First Exhibition of Figurative Arts in Rome and Lazio (now the Rome Biennale) he was awarded the Silver Medal. In the years that followed Giovanni Mazza's laborious artistic activity continued uninterruptedly along a path of personal research aimed at meditated reflection on social issues involving contemporary man.
These are the topics that become the object of discussion in the fruitful meetings with authoritative intellectuals such as the university professor A. De Lorenzi and the art critic F. De Lorenzi. Amato; Professor F. Salvotti (university professor of aesthetics, painter, journalist and art critic); Professor W. Alberti (professor, journalist, essayist and film critic); Professor G. Giraldi (university professor, essayist, philosopher); Chino Bert (stylist and artist). And these are still the themes that Mazza proposes today with his painting and that meet the favour of critics and public when they are proposed in competitions, cultural events, collective and personal exhibitions at prestigious galleries both in Italy and abroad.
A special thought goes to the philosopher and friend Prof. Giovanni Giraldi with whom, in his characteristic residence in Voze (SV), Giovanni Mazza has spent a long time discussing philosophical, political and aesthetic issues that affect contemporary society. The mutual esteem is such that in the periodical Sistematica, founded by Giraldi himself, his thoughts on Mazza's painting are expressed several times.
The importance of form and spirituality in the work of Giovanni Mazza
While he watches the pawns of the style move on the chessboard of life, Giovanni Mazza has no contesting intention when he acts as an artist. He avoids any condition or action that is not of stylistic order, he looks at and translates the aspects of reality, without bending them to thesis or programs, he prefers the social spectacle to the natural one. The work of this artist is therefore under the sign of research, of intelligence, of will; it is the obsession of observing reality in all its elements and giving it an image that nags and regulates his every act as an artist.
Mazza in his painting returns an image blocked according to the rules of a non-naturalistic, but strenuously intellectual spatiality. The harmony of the composition is not generated by veristic ideas nor by intentions to encapsulate reality in the envelope of forms and rhythms of canonical perfection, but are the means to focus on the moment in which the existential becoming stops in the eyes of the artist to transform itself into an aesthetic moment.
We have already mentioned how the human is the recurring and favourite theme of the artist, and he returns to us in the eternity of formal rhythm those coloured, fluid, soft masses, but suddenly lit up with sharp timbres and snappy colours that place the figures in a fantastic dimension, which make them absolute and immutable. Giovanni Mazza is an attentive observer of everyday actions, capturing with calm sensitivity magical moments that are difficult to escape an artist. The figure is studied and analyzed, and transmitted through its charm. He avoids any hedonistic complacency for a realistic research of all possible attitudes in the infinite variety of poses with which man spends his life. Everything is studied to enhance the superb lines of these erect, lying, bent, twisted, forced bodies to the limit of breaking the balance. And all this through different angles, shortened spaces, daring cuts of figures in the foreground that enhance the plasticity of the forms and an originality of composition rarely equalled. The light is also wisely studied, dosed, enhanced through the use of unusual ranges. Giovanni Mazza, the artist, thus discovers the beauty of the skin and the light effects on it, a precious and warm harmony so as to make the nuances of light, intimate yet vibrant, that spreads over the skin, characterized by the plastic forms of the poses. And all this through a fluidity of colour and a speed of brushstroke that knows no doubts or second thoughts and that testifies to a particularly personal gestural confidence. Mazza is not only a painter of nudes and human figures, he also dedicates himself to landscapes and still lifes where the brushstrokes condense into small details and then immediately start again in infinite and fluid drafts. Mazza's acute observation has also dwelt a great deal on the study of human faces and, through them, on the psychology of his figures, penetrating deeply into their spirit and automatically recording their thoughts.
In Mazza's work prevails the moment of the operation of stylistic metamorphosis, aimed at enucleating certain meanings from the appearances of truth, not to make them mere supports of formal harmonies, but to block the mysterious vital essence, the presence in itself. It seemed to me to grasp a secret in its depths: an ever-new cimento in every new canvas, every subject lived and translated through an intense meditation, a deep participated meditation, an exaltation of pure sincere feeling.
Carlo Occhipinti – Guida allo studio dei maestri dell’Arte Contemporanea, Edizione 1988 Ente Biennale della Spezia pp. 87-88