The Bangkok Post has a feature article on Dr Vittorio Roveda, who has written several books on the art of the Khmers and Angkor.
A scientist’s second act
Bangkok Post, 30 June 2011
Long past the age when most would retire to a life of relaxation, Dr Vittorio Roveda refuses to slow down. Although no one would blame him for doing so, the idea of settling down does not appeal to him.
“Research is my medicine,” he said. Roveda, who has both Italian and Swiss citizenship, is currently living in Bangkok and working on two books about Cambodian temples and the art found within them. It’s a topic on which he has already published five books and numerous articles. His prolific output is even more impressive, given that he only got into art history after spending 20 years as a geologist.
He experienced a lot of success in geology, working for huge oil companies like Shell and BP, but the corporate world left a part of him unfulfilled. Only later in life, after an accident that nearly killed him, did he gain a new perspective on what is important and decide to whole-heartedly pursue his passion.
“I was a gifted child,” said Roveda, referring to the fascination in geology that blossomed in him at a very young age. As an eight-year-old living in Switzerland, he would collect rocks and study mountains. His love of the subject never wavered, and he studied until the completion of his PhD in 1964 from the University of Milan in Italy.
He immediately got work in the oil industry. His job allowed him to travel to many exotic places. It was during some time spent in Southeast Asia that he first saw the beautiful paintings present in the ancient wats (temples) of countries like Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand.