Internationally renowned ceramicist Victor Greenaway is an artist at the height of his creative life, forging new directions with his paintings and ink drawings of Italy. Since 2007 Greenaway has lived in Umbria, Italy, returning to Australia each year to work in the Lakes Studio at Nungurner, Victoria. Working now in fine porcelain and black-fired bucchero (an ancient Etruscan technique), in oils on canvas and ink on paper, Greenaway's latest works shown together exemplify the harmony between the media in compiling layers of a complex vision, with a richness of culture and character.
For me, as an artist, it is the idea that is the principle element; the material is of less consequence. Where the fine clays of porcelain and bucchero were once my usual media of choice, I found myself looking at other means to express those ideas. With this specific purpose in mind, I set up a painting studio in Umbria Italy in 2007 so that I could concentrate my attention on the 2-dimensional works. Living as we do, in a medieval hill top town that rises over Etruscan ruins, with Renaissance overlays, piazzas and palazzi infiltrating throughout, stimulus comes from everywhere. This close city dwelling means we are intimately involved in people's lives, customs, traditions and daily routines and this certainly shows in many of the subjects of the paintings.
However, inspiration for the particular works in this new exhibition, “The Search for Light,” was drawn also from regular visits to northern European museums and galleries and in particular from artists such as Corot and Courbet (part of the Barbizan School, mid 19thC) who made a study of the affects of light and atmospheric conditions with much of their creative discoveries being later (and erroneously) attributed to the Impressionists. The Romantic Period followed on in the later 19thC with artists such as Constable and Turner and, in particular, John Singer Sargent (d 1920) whose singular creativity motivated this latest body of work as I set about exploring the use of the brush stroke in creating light and mood.
While painting has always been a personal and private passion, and is a significant addition to my development as a complete artist, it in no way replaces or impedes my work as a ceramic artist. On the contrary, it enhances the creative process by introducing new elements to my work such as colour and pictorial expression. Living in Italy has also enabled me to develop my work with Etruscan bucchero ceramics and offers a unique opportunity of collaboration with other international, professional artists.
The new porcelain work shows this influence with a fine imagery chasing abstract shapes around the form, picking up echoes from the colourful floating mooring poles in Venice, our second “home” in Italy. The surfaces emulate the smoothness of marble on classical forms that can be seen everywhere on the Italian peninsula with the ceramic form itself retaining a deft spontaneity as a direct result from each session on the potter's wheel. The dynamics are created through light and shade, modelled through the use of indentations and various surfaces and colours. The translucency of the porcelain contributes to this by passing light through thin linear markings and fine edges while the blackness of the bucchero (an ancient Etruscan pottery) enfolds the forms and markings within its own space.
As in a quick sketch or abstraction the outcome, regardless of the media, relies on experience, intuition and a confidence in technique. Often the result is uncertain and the work lost or discarded but the journey is an exciting one and constantly rewarding.
A number of images of works to be included have already been mounted on the gallery's website. The direct link is: Without Pier Gallery