Albert Chiarandini was born in the city of Udine, in northern Italy (Friuli-Venezia, Giulia). As a boy, he passionately loved to scribble, draw and dedicate his time copying religious subjects. Having never been taught anatomy, the religious figures he drew and painted as a child, had a strange hunchbacked look. These poor holy figures were rendered with his father’s old shaving brush and powdered colours mixed with water, then applied to the plaster walls of the woodshed out back where his father allowed him to paint. Obviously not an easy start for this determined and dedicated little artist.
Umberto (Albert) taught himself well, for at the age of fifteen he was accepted to apprentice at the workshop of the well known sculptor, Luigi Moro of Udine.
He arrived in Canada in 1932 at the age of 17. Determined to continue with his studies, he applied and was accepted to the Ontario College of Art. There he studied under the guidance of Franklin Carmichael, Frederick Challener, John William Beatty and John Alfsen.
In 1938, his first portrait was accepted into the Ontario Society of Artists Annual Show. Always having the desire to portray people in their environment, observing their instincts, mannerisms and lifestyles, he painted several large series of portraits depicting the diversity of the human condition. Albert would search and recruit models from Allan Gardens in Toronto, and from the streets surrounding the Salvation Army. Here he discovered derelicts from many backgrounds, odours and varied mental states.
In 1967, he began painting in the region of Yorkville Avenue, Toronto. With paint and canvas, Albert proceeded to capture in portraits, the faces of political turmoil and the dynamic change in Yorkville. Here, for him, was a different attitude to record and portray. A new idiom was here to be captured. This driven younger generation full of idealism, equality and peace. These portraits of young hippies, transient and searching, are truly beautiful. Through his work Chiarandini succeeds in his mission to capture the diversity and integrity of the human spirit.
These paintings immediately gained Chiarandini recognition as a serious, professional and extremely gifted portrait painter. Soon would follow a string of portrait commissions, including many of the faces still famous today in the history and cultural fabric of Toronto and Ontario.
Between portrait sessions, Albert kept painting, diversifying his talent and applying it to the realm of the landscape, painting scenes of rural life. Sharing in this pursuit of landscapes he had some truly gifted company. He was friends with Donald Fraser, has shared exhibition space with Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, Fred Varley, Lawren Harris Jr., Joachim Gauthier, A.Y. Jackson, among others in annual exhibitions of the Ontario Society of Artists, the Royal Canadian Academy and at the Gallery of Hamilton.
Albert said that "landscapes allowed him to explore the profound beauty of nature, echoes of light and the smell of the countryside". Little could he have foreseen a future side effect of his work. From our perspective today, Chiarandini has created a unique and powerful gift of historical documentation and beauty.
Chiarandini's paintings of fields now hold subdivisions in their soil, vistas with immense skies flowing freely that today have been filled with high-rises and industrial developments. This is a recorded history we should appreciate, of what Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket, and other well known and once rural neighborhoods were. As well as a collection of beautiful and powerful paintings.
In 2004, a donation of 159 of Albert’s paintings was made to the Georgina Arts Centre and Gallery in Sutton West, by the late Mr. Bruce Smith. This major collection is on permanent display, and has been included in "The Group of Seven Project", citing Albert as "The Unknown Group of Seven Member". The event has garnered him much attention and provides public viewing of this exceptional collection of his landscapes, portraits and still life. Few artists, particularly Canadian, have been honoured with this level of public exposure and support from a public gallery.
Albert Chiarandini passed away on December 18, 2007, in his 93rd year. He was passionate about the power of art and the beauty of our Canadian landscapes. Albert was truly a reminder of a revolutionary era in Canadian painting, and an established voice in his own right, for Canadian art.
Please view these short video clips on YouTube about Chiarandini Hippie portraits and his Canadian landscapes.
* Ontario Society of Artists * Fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters * Staff member of the Ontario College of Art * Listed in Who's Who of American art * Membership in the International Platform Association
* Dr. M.K. Bochner, Scarborough General Hospital * Mrs. Ed Mirvish * Mrs. Ann Dejourno * Dean Matheson, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto * Dean of Botany Department, University of Toronto * Mrs. Leon (Leon's Furniture) * Plus many others
* Ontario College of Art * Northern Secondary School * Willowdale Group of Artists * Holy Blossom Temple * Private Classes * Humber Valley Art Group * The Guild of Portrait Painters 1970 - 2004 * Toronto School of Art