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The painter Hero Paradiso was born in Santeramo in Colle (Bari) in 1912. He was son of Bartolomeo, a well-known artist of the town. At the age of 14, he held his first solo show in the salons of Bari’s Art Gallery, under the patronage of the city provincial administration which awarded him a five-year scholarship allowing him to continue his studies.
Here is the unabridged text of a resolution dated 1927 found in the town records by Hero’s great friend, Mr Gianni Stano: Resolution n.2, 10 January 1927: Purchase of a little picture at a cost of 100 lire painted by the young Hero Paradiso (15 years old) who, notwithstanding his youth, held an exhibition in Bari a short time ago with great success.
He has great artistic talent and it is very likely that in the near future he will become a brilliant artist. In Naples, he was Vincenzo Irolli’s pupil and he improved his preparation in the Vatican Museums. The humanist Tommaso Fiore helped him in the study of humanities. He set up exhibitions in the most important centres of Italy and in Vienna and Paris. In 1946 he moved to South America and settled in Rio de Janeiro for 15 years. After a string of successes, he exhibited in all of Latin America’s capitals. In 1961 he was invited to Hollywood and he stayed in the residential quarter of Beverly Hills for 12 years. During this period he also showed great talents in sculpture. He acquired U.S. citizenship because of his artistic talent and in the USA he worked a long time with the galleries of “Sloane and Wilder” and “A.A. Brothers”. His works appear in the world greatest private collections. During his last years abroad, he exhibited in Canada and in the Far East (Tokyo, Hong Kong and Calcutta). In September 1974 he returned to his home town where he continued to paint feelingly until the end of his life (09/10/94).

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Hero Paradiso’s long career was strongly influenced by the lesson of his father Bartolomeo, who was a great artist too and the pupil of a famous Apulian painter of the 800s, Francesco Netti. Detached from every formal satisfaction, his works are characterised by a solid and well-built structure enabling him to deal with complex themes full of great emotional charge.
grafica_heroilpercorsoEach element of his paintings contributes to the understanding of the message lying in the work. Most of Paradiso’s artistic beliefs aim at conveying the ideal values at the basis of events of great symbolic importance. From the most tumultuous to the most expressive images, Paradiso always carries his composition towards a new interpretation of reality reaching the level of transcendent images. The use of colour together with his palette knife technique show a refined mastery of his field compared with the great painters of the past.
His favourite subjects are landscape and still life and they show a strong and endless love of his land, Apulia, of which he adores its natural scenes and its costumes.

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Hero had an extraordinary ability to get in touch with children: his stories, fairytales and descriptions of distant towns and places charmed his young hearers who really stood open-mouthed. He used to invent incredible stories capturing the imagination of his young audience for whom he was always “Uncle Hero”. Gianni Stano, his friend, witnessed a funny episode which he tells:
One fine day of September 1983, in the early afternoon, Hero persuaded me to go with him to his small estate full of trees in “Via Cassano”. He advised me to be quick to anticipate the arrival of a small group of children with their parents who would have spent a few hours of entertainment there. He wanted to spring a big surprise to them before school started. Arrived in Via Cassano, Hero gave me a bag full of sweets and chocolates and told me: “Get a move on, Gianni! Children will arrive in a moment!” Suddenly he started to attach the sweets to the branches of a tree, as they were fruits. Within half an hour, we decorated a real tree of sweets. Then Hero disappeared in a hideout of the estate. After ten minutes, the happy band arrived. The children started to chase each other on the grass like loose dogs. While playing, they heard a noise: a small stone wall had fallen down. Attracted by the noise, we all saw a big man appearing from a small path with a smile on his face. He had a pouch, a hunter cap, a gun on his shoulder and a mess dress. One of the boys recognised him and then all rushed towards him. While running among the stones, a tree sparkling of sweets appeared like a mirage and the children, although incredulous, started to strip the mysterious fruits off the tree. Hero was happy and smiling close to the children and told them: “I was right when I said that the tree of sweets really exists!” The satisfaction of those who watched the scene was beyond description. While the kids were pocketing the sweets, the parents, at a short distance, laughed at it and enjoyed the new show made up by Uncle Hero who used to say: the innocence of the children should be educated in a way that they will always trust nature. Perhaps this is the reason why he always succeeded in amazing his young friends.
This is only one of the main episodes in which the great artist succeeded in conveying cheerfulness and excitement. He was able to involve children even while talking about serious and difficult topics. I remember with affect and emotion my pupils’ great interest and enthusiasm when they followed Hero’s lessons on Francesco Netti.
(Ins. Pino Pontrandolfo)