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An article featured in Art Streams - March 2004, by Clive Dickerson

Marco Luccio loves the city, and Melbourne is the dominant subject of his forthcoming exhibition at Dickerson Gallery in Richmond. Perhaps his Italian background has given him an innate passion for building and construction. Luccio was born in Benevento, just outside of Naples, and he relates how his father was often occupied with small building projects around the house as he was growing up in Melbourne. Luccio spent one year at Warnambool Institute of Advanced Education before completing his Honours Degree in Printmaking at RMIT where he was introduced to the technique of drypoint, a difficult technique to master as it demands drawing directly onto the copper plate with a sharp tool to make the incisions that hold the printing ink. The advantage of this process is that you can achieve a more spontaneous and variable line, much more like drawing and unlike the consistent and even line that is associated with etching. (An unfortunate aspect of this method is that the cutting into the plate throws up a sharp metal burr that will quickly shred the foot of your hand while drawing, as Luccio will confirm) However, it is this spontaneous quality that Luccio finds most attractive, and his method is to take his large copper plate to the city rooftops and lay it on the ground and proceed to draw with his graver as though it was a stick of charcoal on a piece of paper. Though Luccio does rework the plate back in the studio, he does as little as possible so as to not diminish the sense of spontaneity and freshness that this direct approach provides. One consequence of this direct drawing approach is that the printed image will appear reversed, but this is not an issue as Luccio does not necessarily set out to achieve a representative view of a specific site, he is more interested in achieving an image that conveys a sense of grandeur and awe in front of human achievement, though the titles of the prints do inform the viewer where he located himself in order to create the image, for example, ‘Lonsdale Street from the QVB’

His artistic influences also relate to the depiction of the city. Luccio refers specifically to the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s ‘The Tower of Babel’, Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s imaginary prisons and even the Fritz Lang movie ‘Metropolis’. It is interesting to note that all of these references are to architectural fantasies, and not to more documentary images of specific sites or cities as you would find with artists such as Canaletto, for there is a similar quality inherent within Luccio’s prints- a somewhat romanticized moodiness, or a dark melancholy silence, and even though there are an abundance of cranes and scaffolding, there is a feeling of abandonment within the cityscape. This is quite in contrast to Luccio’s perception of the city- where he sees dynamism and movement (or ‘Movimento’) I tend to see inertia. To me, the activity and energy within the artworks reflects the technique employed, that is, the stylistic qualities of the drawing, and I am not so sure that this energy necessarily translates automatically to the subject matter. What I do find interesting about the quality of the line-work is the effect that it creates of a city as an organic object. The buildings are like irregular stunted growths and the streets become like arteries that nourish the haphazardly arranged organs. Perhaps this is what Luccio is referring to when he says “everything interconnects, and that’s what I express in my work.”

You can see the works on paper that Marco Luccio has produced over the last ten years at Dickerson Gallery located at 2A Waltham Street, Richmond, from the 9th of March to the 4th of April

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