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I’m up early this morning to write this as Antonio is bringing one of his sculptures over to Isiiad this morning. We’re going to see if it fits in the spot that I have in mind for it.  I cant wait.

I first saw it in the brochure for the Yarra Valley Open Studios and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.  It’s made out of fine fruit wood prunnings, though from a distance it looks like metal.  It’s intriguing.

Last week I interviewed Antonio at his studio in Healesville.  His studio is within his home.  He built the house himself over a period of three and a half years.  It’s all stone and wood and situated in a pretty spot on a dirt road off the main drag.  The house is a credit to him.  His attention to detail and finish is reflected everywhere.   Even his work shop is a picture of order and perfection with tools and equipment being logically stored on boards in easy reach. (He has agreed to me coming back to do a photo shoot on his house…stay tuned for that one.)

He is a painter and sculptor and is breaking new ground in both mediums.  The fruit wood sculptures combine one of his other passions which is his garden.  He harvests the wood from his own fruit trees. Once pruned he leaves the wood for several weeks until it becomes limp.  It then goes up on a ‘bending board’ which gives the wood it’s graceful curves. They remain on the board for four to five months.  Assembly is time consuming.  Tiny holes are drilled and then wood is inserted into the holes and glued in place.  The shapes evolve without a pre-determined shape being drawn.  There’s a bit of trial and error. The final shapes are a result of playing and experimenting with what the wood and curves can do. They’re very organic.

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Bending board

I truly believe that this creative process makes the best art.  Antonio applies the same principle in many areas of his life.  A simple walk is undertaken without a destination.  He explores what interests him along the way and changes direction at will.  Similarly his extensive travel history reflects the same process.  He spent several years travelling through South America, America and Europe in 1982 to 1984.  South America influenced his work profoundly at that time. Other influences were Kandinsky (he saw his work at the George Pompidou Centre in Paris) Klee and MIro. I had wondered about Fernand Leger influencing his painting and sure enough he’s a fan. While those influences probably inform his work in subliminal ways today he is presently more actively interested in Australian Art. Fred Williams is a fave.  I can see his influence in the vertical lines in most of Antonios contemporary paintings.  Having said that, Antonios landscapes are much more abstracted and have the vibrancy of colour that we are lucky enough to experience all around us in Australia  on a sunny day.  (See the painting below.) They’re just gorgeous. He is planning to spend a lot more time painting in the future.  I’m looking forward to seeing where his painting goes next.

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I’m really interested when I see a truly creative process in action. Antonio’s home, work and everyday life reflect it.  When you add his exquisite attention to detail the results are an inspiration. For my money, he’s the real deal.

Antonio

Antonio can be contacted by Ph.  (03) 5962 2428