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Italian contribution to Australian art

A new book bringing together a group of thirty-one Italian-Australian artists

Italian contribution to Australian art

Claudia Astarita

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Italians are famous in Australia for being the community behind the food revolution the country went through in the last few decades. However, hospitality is not the only area in which the big comminuty of Italian migrants left a sign down under.

A new book published by the Consulate General of Italy in Melbourne titled "Ritratti", in English "Portraits", confirms the success and the popularity of Italian artists in Melbourne.

"Ritratti" brings together a group of thirty-one Italian-Australian artists. A first look at the publication confirms that we are talking about a very diverse cohort: some artists prefer to tell a story through their works, while others have chosen to focus on its visual impact; some use traditional oil painting, other engraving techniques, others are video-makers. They all share a strong bond with our country and their Italian identity is often a precious source of inspiration to draw on.

Among the artworks included it is worth mentioning Filomena Coppola's delicate pastels, Angela Cavalieri's intricate prints,  the multimedia masterpieces of the Mangano sisters, Sarah Tomasetti's luminous fresco paintings, the hyper-realistic portraits of Vincent Fantauzzo and Anna Minardo (whose works is displayed in the Vatican City's collection), Marina Strocchi's outback Australian scenes, and Domenico De Clario's installations and performances. The book also includes internationally famous artist Patricia Piccinini, whose work explores the darkest side of genetic experimentation.

The inaugural ceremony was hosted earlier in June by Consul General Marco Maria Cerbo, who, in front of an audience of several dozen people, recalled that Italy was the home of the richest cultural heritage in the world and underlined how the lessons of the great masters of the past is evident in the work of the artists chosen to be included in the volume. In the preface, he recalls that "it is easy to discern in the artists' work how their lives, and therefore their creations, are deeply drenched in their Italian roots.  More than a few have won residencies in Italy and spent some time absorbing the lessons of Italian past and contemporary best artists and being exposed to what our culture has to offer. The vast majority took direct inspiration from Italian masterpieces, be they the dark and disturbing engravings of Piranesi, the surreal compositions by De Chirico, or the bold and colourful lines of contemporary design".

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