“The passage that most caught my attention in Tim Jacob’s introduction to the 2005 book celebrating the ceramic works of Victor Greenaway concerned that moment of stillness, silence, and expectation that all artists, writers, poets, musicians and performers share when they are on the verge of creating a new work. ‘Sitting there with the pot in one hand…waiting for it to say what it wants… Nothing is happening. And then in a flicker, the soft bristle is unloading its glaze across the surface, fingers working the rolling brush, and its done… ‘It’s down and done. It’s a one shot game.’ ” from Victor Greenaway, ceramics, drawings and paintings ITALY 2007-2012 – an introduction by Stefano Carboni, Page 4.
I loved the simplicity and elegance of these shapes, but it’s the “glaze across the surface” that marks them out as uniquely Victor Greenaway. He has had a stella career in ceramics, formed over the last forty years. Five years ago he packed up his belongings and went to live in Italy…to paint. In between painting portraits, landscapes and the interiors of buildings, Victor took time out to explore his new home. Venice became a regular ‘must visit’ destination. On returning to Australia at the beginning of this year, a body of ceramic work was created inspired by his Italian experiences. Victor says, “In Venice it’s the carnival. Bright lights flash in the water.” The decoration on these porcelain pots describes that observation.
While the shapes of the pots above are primarily inspired by Japanese ceramics, there were others that echoed the shape of Etruscan pots and the pristine marble sculptures of Bernini… The rims were tweaked to suggest splashes of water.
At the Manningham Gallery, Victor’s ceramics sit side by side with his paintings. Walking into the space felt like taking a trip back to Italy. The sights and sounds were all there. The exhibition was beautifully curated by Melbourne ceramics expert Anna Maas, who managed to place works in such a way as to draw attention to the influence of one upon the other.
Victor Greenaway© Civita di Bagnoregio, Oil on canvas. 1600 x 2000mm. 2011
The painting below, was inspired by a memorable visit to a cathedral in Florence where a young Italian soprano was singing arias…Victor was so moved by the experience that he rendered it in paint.
Victor Greenaway© Figure in the colonnade, FLORENCE. (detail) Acrylic on canvas. 1000 x 1000mm. 2008
As I write this, I’m conscious that Victor will have returned to Italy by now, where he will continue to explore figurative and narrative painting.
Victor Greenaway© Blue mooring poles, Ponte dell’Accademia, Venice. (detail) Oil on canvas. 600 x 600mm. 2009
If you have ever travelled to Italy, here’s an opportunity to re experience it, without having to dust off your passport. But beware, you may be tempted to visit a travel agent when you leave. Victor’s exhibition is on display at the Manningham Gallery until Saturday 14th April.
My thanks to Victor Greenaway, Anna Maas and Manningham Gallery Director, Megan McEvoy, for their assistance with this post.
Victor is represented throughout Australia by the following galleries,
Skepsi on Swanston Melbourne
Bett Gallery Hobart
Gallows Gallery in Perth
Framed Gallery in Darwin
Beaver Galleries Canberra
All work in this post is Victor Greenaway©