Mario Capaldi (1935-2004) was a full-time professional British artist who enjoyed an extensive art career spanning forty-four years, from 1959 to 2003. Due to his reclusive nature, he never publicised any of his work.
He was born in Glasgow in 1935 where he grew up in the close-knit Scots-Italian community witnessing the hardships of WW2; bombings and the internship of many Italian nationals. His ancestors hailed from a little village near Montecassino in Italy, but they had migrated back and forth to Britain, from the late nineteenth century onwards settling first in the southeast of England and then Scotland.
Mario had an innate and exceptional talent for drawing as a child, but his family never encouraged this forcing him instead to work in the family business. In the 1950s, the family relocated to Middlesbrough, in the northeast of England, to run their ice-cream business where Mario had to work in an ice-cream van.
Mario was enthralled by the great art and the masters of the Renaissance, as well as artists of the Victorian and Edwardian era, which he studied avidly. His favourite art hero was undoubtedly Fortunino Matania (1881-1963). Mario was largely self-taught but he did attend a few sessions at the Glasgow School of Art in the early 1950s and later in 1959 he studied at the Constantine College, Middlesbrough’s former College of Art, which is now part of Teesside University.
Mario was extremely versatile; he could draw and paint any subject matter in any medium or style whether this was in; oils, watercolours, acrylics, pencils and inks. He enjoyed painting figures and group scenes as well as depicting animals, and particularly horses.
He loved to paint Victorian, historical and biblical scenes in oils and watercolours; such as the ‘Charge of the Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo’. He illustrated children’s books, fairy-tales, comics and nursery rhymes, such as; Enid Blyton’s ‘The Little Bear’s Adventure’ and the ‘Famous Five’, Ladybird’s ‘Princess and the Frog’, Rupert Bear and Disney’s Aladdin. He also was the artist on many children’s and junior comic titles for IPC and Marvel in the UK and USA, among others.
During his career he worked on over fifty different comic characters in almost as many varied publications. These include; Roy of the Rovers, Typhoon Tracy, Hurricane, Tiger, Eagle, Battle, Bunty, Judy, Tammy, Jinty, Misty, Robo Transformers, ThunderCats, Barbie, Care Bears, James Bond Junior, Zorro, Sesame Street, Mighty Max, Wind in the Willows, Brer Rabbit, Duckula, Captain Planet, etc.
He even illustrated Charles Dickens (his favourite author) for the New York Saturday Evening Post and a version of Harry Potter for the BBC.
Mario dedicated his whole life to art; drawing, painting, photographing potential subject matter, researching and reading about art, talking about art – great art that really inspired him, (which always included Matania). He settled in Middlesbrough where he lived his adult life, often taking inspiration for scenery from the surrounding, beautiful North Yorkshire countryside.
‘Mario A Biography in Poetry’ is the book which I have written which documents my father’s early life and his struggle to be an artist, which I hope may inspire others in achieving their dream. See www.vandacapaldi.co.uk. Please view the Gallery page for some examples of his work.