The bad news may be that the exhibition of Japanese paintings that I curated for the Museo d’Arte Orientale, at Torino, scheduled to open next March 26, was postponed by one year. And we just hope that we can enjoy the opening at the Museo delle Culture at Lugano, next July. However, word already spread, as I came to realize yesterday when I received a very nice letter from a certain Mr. Bruno Filipponio, from near Salerno. He very kindly asked me ‘un immenso favore,’  understanding that this might cost me some problems, yet, he hoped I could and would honour his request, and send him a copy of my ‘Kakemono (mostra al M/A.O. di Torino) catalogo.’

Tani Buncho, 1763-1841, Self-portrait painting, possibly as a message to someone who commissioned a painting from him, that he was working on it, don’t worry, 1832.

And then, this gentleman is even so kind as to offer me something in return, and not just anything, no nothing less than ‘un caro ricordo di famiglia,’ or some treasured family heirloom, guess what, a copy of BOLLETTINO DELLA SOCIETA ITALIANA DI GEOGRAFIA (stampato fine 1900) – how could he know that I had been looking for this rare bulletin for many many years?

Indeed, Mr. Filipponio knows how to get things done. His letter, apparently typed quite some time ago on some old Olivetti typewriter, was then Xeroxed, so he just had to fill out the title of the catalogue of my exhibition that he would appreciate to get from me, typed using the red ribbon of his typewriter, and to sign his letter in blue ballpoint. I could almost picture some old man craving for the latest on Japanese painting, being ‘bitterly disillusioned’ as he asserts, ‘if I couldn’t honour his request.’ Yet, he did address his letter to ‘Leiden University, Olanda,’ so he would seem to have access to the internet.

Interestingly, he can also be found there himself. And not only as the torch bearer for the 1960 Rome Olympic Games! He is best known for actions like this, asking for books that are still being in print, not even out, but apparently announced somewhere, with a special interest in obscure titles dealing with philology, with Caravaggio, with art deco glass, the restauration of a church in Cuneo, or the cathedral of Parma, and in Japanese paintings from five centuries, in my case. In return, he offers ‘treasured family heirlooms,’ such as Pironti’s Osservazioni e chiose su vernacolo e dialetto, or Terra, trattato popolare di geografia universale.

He apparently already started sending these letters as early as in 1963, and though I was kindly advised to get the letter framed and hang it in my room, as he only seems to approach authors of international reputation, I must say that I was a bit sad to be considered worthy of being approached by him so late in my career.

If you would like to read more, or maybe join the Filipponio fan club (just for writers, I am afraid), check the internet for Bruno Filipponio, or the blog of one of my colleagues.