Ferruccio Cajani

Ferruccio Cajani was born in Milan in 1927, 1) the eldest child of a well to do family of the upper middle class of the nineteen thirties – nineteen-fifties,  prominent in those years like the Crespis and the Juckers. His father, Lorenzo Cajani, 2) was one of the founding fathers of the  Inter Football Club and was a hero of World War One. When the war was over, he took up again his social activity and took up again his successful career as a lawyer.  Ferruccio was a student at the Liceo Parini of Milan, where his schoolfriends were Enrico Maria Salerno and Guido Rocca.3)



In fact when the bombings became too frequent, his father decided to send him to their villa at Oggebbio 4) on Lake Maggiore , where he joined his sister and his mother. Even there, on the shores of the lake, on the borders of the partisan republic of Ossola, Ferruccio was a “witness” to the horrors, the crimes and cruelty  of  war, such as the continual capturing raids, the reprisal killing of thirty young boys (who, captured by the Germans, were made to march for many miles up to the place where they were executed, at the mouth of the river Toce) or the death of the gardener of the villa, whose murdered body was found by the family. Many of his comrades joined the ranks of the “Repubblichini” and others became Partisans (on the personal plane they remained friends and at the end of the war they were ready to give, if need be, a helping hand to one another). For many of them, however, there was no return.  Ferruccio instead, who owing to his small stature and his slight build looked much younger than his years, never took part in any activity and was never halted by the Germans (who were patrolling the area and the borders of the Ossola in particular) when he was daily cycling from Oggebbio to the College of Pallanza  (Padri Marianisti). When the war was over, he came back to Milan and graduated in medicine. With some members of his family he founded a pharmaceutical factory, where he was in charge of research and the production of medicines. After some initial success, owing to inefficient administration, the enterprise failed, causing deep rifts in family relationships. Because of all this, he moved to the  small  town of Bovisio Masciago, where he practised as medical doctor with the National Health Service, while carrying on a private practice as  dental surgeon. Anyway he never stopped considering himself a Milanese nor did he ever cease his daily relationships for leisure and culture with his native city. The pivot year for the poet and artist Ferruccio Cajani was 1976,  when, having fallen in love with an Australian lady, he anglicized his poetry and his own name signing himself  Ferruccio Adolfo Ambroise Cajani   or F.A.A. Cajani.

In the wake of Edgar Allan Poe and his poetry, he composed in quick succession  two collections of poems: “English Poems” and “Squille Belle Squille Eterne e altre poesie figurate” (Fine peals eternal Peals and other visual works) and  “10 Poesie”. The title “Squille Belle”  is a quotation of a well-known poem by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Bells”. For its themes, its order of composing and its phonovisual but also figurative form, it is a fundamental text for our author, who in its pages experiments and synthetically anticipates his own further developments. Ever since “Squille Belle” his poetic tension follows two antithetic and complementary lines: the iconic element prevails over the literary essence “in the written formula of the language” while the word tends to dissolve into “musically” ordered phonemes. In “10 Poesie”, a book edited by his sculptor friend Victor Lucena, the visual experimenting goes deeper. One poetic text, written in English, “with the occasional peeping in of relics of other languages in their way of reversion to dialect” is visualized in ten “pictures” with a variety of painting techniques (from the catalogue “Domopak”,  1987).  The text having been “erased” mainly through the use of colour, by colour itself words, letters and relics are thrown into relief. Some lines are “cancelled”, some “messages” come to life: “be-hold gold”, “lutto di famiglia” (family mourning) etc. The collection to which the text belongs, “English Poems”,  where Poe’s musical and poetic influence is noticeable, will on the contrary remain unpublished until the early twenty-first century, when it will be published on ULU-LATE (
www.ulu-late.com). The collaboration with Lucena will continue until the nineties. In 1978, with another sculptor friend, Giordano Arzuffi, Cajani attends the courses by Tadini, Veronesi, Mo and Azuma at the newly founded “Nuova Accademia” of Milan. The authorial  research seems to achieve its solution into surrealism with the “invention” of the pure title. “Vite di Editori”  (Publishers’ lives) and  “Teofania”, defined as “unbiblical” books, in one copy only,  both of 1978, consist in very few pages, the chromatic backgrounds of which are in dialectic contrast with coloured adhesive tapes... The literary element definitely recedes and disappears in the next Duchamp inspired work “Il Tennista” (The Tennis Player) – Anno 2 N.12/February 1980” “aided ready made”, dedicated to the famous Mc Enroe. The research of experimental visual/pictorial character entirely absorbs the author. While the collaboration with Arzuffi becomes more and more intense. In the same year the two artists present their work in the exhibition of Capoliveri (isle of Elba). Cajani exhibits his “Poesie Visive” (Visual Poems) derived from “Squille Belle”, together with other free compositions, that is  yellow/white temperas on black cardboard with a peremptory writing (“go home”, “vai via?!”, “perché mi tocchi?!”  etc.).  A couple of years later, with Arzuffi,  he fits and furnishes as a studio, a  site for art, the large apartment at Varedo, near Milan, where he takes up his residence. He makes, in addition to various canvasses, many of them of large dimensions,  the chairs and small tables of painted wood, the curtains with a sonnet (“Psiche”) and other colour writings etc. His exhibitions, both one man and collective become more frequent. In 1983 “Parole Colorate” (Coloured words) at the Galleria Vinciana, in Milan and “La Scrittura in Forma” (Writing in Shape) at the town library Villa Gargantini at Paderno Dugnano, near Milan. In 1987 we find “Domopak” at the Galleria Vinciana in Milan. Its catalogue is edited by Lucena. The canvasses are overlaid by shining domopak, painted and engraved, or with stretched chromatic backgrounds and soft cyclic cottonwool, that is tampax, pads and toilet paper. They are the canvasses of  “Sheperd Good”, “Ubi domopak ibi spes”, “Domopak nero”, “Sonetto”, “A ritm etica”…

Starting from the nineties Cajani takes up once more,  not in an atypical and occasional way, but more decisively, his literary activity. His writing continues to be carried out in a visual, authorial form. It is “autography” as opposed to printed, “Gutenberg dominated”, homologizing  writing. Also Cajani, with other visual contemporaries of his, continues his research for an autography of his own, where contents and graphics authorially coincide (cfr “Liliana ou la Poesie”, 2002) “The writings are a thousand, the hand is one only”, whether you write with a pen, or by tempera in refined colour  backgrounds or by computer and the research by the author ventures to explore a variety of modes for the same work. As to the work itself,   its literary “contents” of ideas, “facit indignatio versum”. They are the tales of the cycle “Storia di Witulonia” (The history of Witulonia)    that is  “Very recent history of Italy” in which the facts of everyday political chronicle are  metaphorized and give rise to  tales of  an acrimoniously metaphorical surrealistic and utopian  character (1990-1999s).  The neo-surrealistic novel “Come un cadavere ossia Morto che parla” (Like a dead body, that is the corpse that speaks), where the erotic element mingles and alternates with the social based invective and with the autobiographic element (1994-1995). The fantastic/utopian novel “La Valle dell’Eterna Andata” (The Valley of Eternal Going), where the autobiographic element, idealized and lyricized returns (1995-2003). Besides outlining a fiercely authoritarian future society, the narrative thread follows the story of  young Leucofilo (alias the author), which is a tale of initiation to Love and Death. In 1997 Cajani moves to the apartment in Bovisio Masciago, where he spent the rest of his life and on the available  surfaces of which (walls and ceilings) he painted (together with his “ apprentice” Caria, from Sardinia) symbolical and figurative frescoes,  colour modulations, new “writings”. In the same year Cajani presents his one man exhibition “Non perdete il Tram” (Don’t miss the tram) at the Palazzo Odescalchi, the Town Hall of  Bovisio Masciago, with a performance in which the town vips take part and of which a catalogue is issued.

At the start of the new millennium, in the year 2000, on the occasion of his one man anthological exhibition “Non vale la pena di leggere” (Not worth reading) - performance of the same title by Michele Ciarla and by the actors and mimes of the “ La Baracca” company of Monza, on the premises of Luigi Olivetti’s Milanese Association Archivi del ’900,  he meets “L” (Liliana Ebalginelli). In the same year he collaborates,  with a poster composed with the graphic artist Michele Riboldi  and with a scenic plot of his own, to the exhibition “A!E!I!O!U! Aldo Palazzeschi 1905-1914” which Ebalginelli is organizing for Archivi del ’900. The two artists have successfully worked together ever since. The immediate result was a four hand work, a visual poem,  “Voyage” (lilianaebalginelli Editrice, 2001). In the year 2001 they founded the bilingual  (Italian and English) online review of contemporary poetry ULU-LATE (www.ulu-late.com>), in which takes part the visual and sound poet Arrigo Lora Totino. Over the years the review has introduced some of the most important  Italian and international visual and sound poets and published many of the still unpublished literary works by Cajani, also in their French and English version: “Liliana ou la poésie. A dialogue  of the visual poem”, some of the tales from “Storia di Witulonia”, “La Valle dell’Eterna Andata Senza Ritorno” (The Valley of the Eternal Going with no return), “Belzebù sposo” (The Marriage of Beelzebub), “Kubla Khan risanato” (Kubla Khan healed), “English Poems” etc. In the same year, 2001, Cajani and Ebalginelli founded the lilianaebalginelli editrice, a publishing company de facto, a society for the experimental publishing of phonic CDs and visual e-books (up to 2005 when the company was  closed). Since 2006 ULU-LATE was managed by liliana Ebalginelli on her own, while Cajani opened his site LI-GEIA (www.li-geia.com). Here Cajani published his own poetic works, composed for the purpose, experimenting new multimedial mingling of figurative visualness and  electronic  writing and phonic reciting, both supported and unsupported by a given musical basis. At the same time he carried on the visual computer elaboration of  “Incudine ai Tropici, romanzo globale” (An anvil at the Tropics, a global novel), an erotic-utopian novel printed in 2008. Some of his books are to be found at Paolo della Grazia’s Archivio di Nuova Scrittura at the MART of Trento and Rovereto. Some of his works of visual poetry have been acquired by the Museo della Carale  Accatino  of Ivrea (near Turin) and by the MACma of  Matino (near Lecce). Cajani died suddenly in strange and certainly dramatic circumstances in his apartment of Bovisio Masciago on 7th April of the current year (2014).  He had been working on his temperas and on a new tale, taken from his cycle “The history of Witulonia”,  availing himself of the work of  Giorgio Annoni for the PC transcription of his visual text. He also intended to have  “Liliane ou la poésie, a Dialogue on visual poem”, with  the versions in English and in French by Liliana  (L) and Eleonora Heger Vita,  printed and for this purpose he had recently asked Liliana to lend him a hand with the collected texts.



     1st November 2014


1)  Most of the present article has been published in the monograph “Ferruccio Cajani with love and with anger” by Adriano Accattino,  Edizioni Museo della Carale Accattino, Ivrea 2009.


2) Cfr don Vittorio Maini “TheGreat War.The sacrifice of the Alpine battalion Monte Clapier” edited by L.Cortelletti and R. Greselin, Gino Rosso editore, 2013. In particular, the commander Lorenzo Cajani  is remembered for having devised and carried out in person  the raid of Castelletto, above Cortina. The impregnable Austrian position was taken thanks to the excavation of a long gallery in the hard rocks through which the soldiers passed, led by Captain Cajani, and attacked from the back and captured the Austrian soldiers. The commander was later entrusted with the command of the battalion Monte Clapier during the withdrawal  of Caporetto.


3) E.M.Salerno was to become a famous Italian actor and producer. Guido Rocca was going to follow his father’s example and become a  successful journalist,author and playwright. He was to die young.


4) The villa, bought by his maternal grandfather, had been Ponchielli’s villa.  It was endowed with a beautiful park, a landing harbor and a tennis court. It was attended by the nicest young people of Milan. After the war it was sold to German buyers and without any opposition from the local authorities, it was pulled down and rebuilt  on new lines.   
















F & L, A!E!i!O!U! Aldo Palazzeschi, October 2000, photo Michele Ciarla

Sulla ruota del nulla, 70 x 50, 2011, tempera, Luperto collection, photo Giovanni Giangrande

Go and Catch, tempera, 70 x 50, 2011, Luperto collection, photo Giovanni Giangrande

Chiara e Olimpia vegliano il morto, tempera, 70 x 50, 1997, collection MACma, Matino

Casa-Opera of Ferruccio Cajani, Bovisio Masciago, Milano, May 2014, photo Aurelio Heger & L