Articles Relating to Pentimento Exhibition
 
Herald Sun, November 7th 2006, page 75
High, Dry and Brilliant - Jeff Makin

Working with a beautiful model can be a distraction for an artist. Not so for Marco Luccio, whose drypoints and etchings of two of the most beautiful cities in the world go far beyond mere architectural description.

Not for Luccio afternoons wistfully wasted sipping hot chocolate in the Café de Flore, watching the world pass by, imagining that you are sitting in the very chair that Picasso or Hemingway sat in.

Instead, the Melbourne artist is up the top of the Arc de Triomphe drawing the Eiffel Tower one way and the view to Montmartre the other.

Then he's up the stairs at Notre Dame to sketch the many gargoyles and, as night falls, the lights of Parks.

In Florence he is similarly athletic, drawing from the hill at the Piazzale Michelangelo or inside the Uffizi looking out, sketching the bridges across the Arno .

Luccio was there for only four weeks last year, but the first impression of the latest exhibition is one of sheer energy. This is compounded by the manual dexterity of his process.

Most of these prints of Florence and Paris are drypoints – that is, no acid is used to create the groove in the copper plate to hold ink.

The grooves are made by hand, leaving a burr that also holds the ink and prints like a blurred feathered shadow around the line. Drypoint requires great strength of hand.

This exhibition continues Luccio's fascination with cities previously seen in his graphic essays of Sydney and Melbourne.

There is a swinging bravura to Luccio's drawing. It doesn't dwell on strict empirical description of the architectural form (as attractive as it is) but scraping into the copper plate lets the line develop its own charcter and direction.

His Eiffel Tower moves off centre, leaning like a Frech Tower of Pisa. Its metal lacework become structurally unsound, yet registers as a freehand equivalent of this icon of the Industrial Revolution.

Decribing Notre Dame's gargoyles, Luccio places them within a tondo, a porthole, through which you peer at these gothic guardians on the famed Galerie des Chimeres.

Detailed sketches of the winged things accompany Luccio's print. For a moment you can see the artist's concentration wafting off into medieval associations of the monster Gargouille, thought to be an original inhabitant of the Seine until killed by St Romaine in the 7 th century and put into service as a water spout.

The masterprints in the exhibition are his Paris Triumphant 1 and 2. they can be seen singly or joined as a diptych.

Though monotonal, printed in a warm mixture of sanguine darkened with a smell of black, they convey the atmosphere and immensity of the subject.

This is reinforced by the platetone, the pentimento of the platewiping process intentionally left to “bed down” the lines into.

This aspect of Luccio's work places it outside the many other graphic impressions of the same subject that too often read simply as descriptive tourist posters.

It's the autonomous nature of his line as a line it its own right, with personality and attitude, amplified by such pentimento, or shadow of the line, that places Luccio's prints of the top end of the genre. Bellissimo!

 
Some background on ‘Pentimento' from Marco Luccio:

To create the work for Pentimento I travelled to Paris and Florence for the inspiration of those two beautiful cities.

We arrived in Paris in December 2005 and began the work for the show which I later finished at the Baldessin Press in St Andrews.

To work in Paris was a dream I held for a long time, and then one day, I woke up, I was in Paris, and it was time for me to work. It was cold of course, but I rugged up in layers, left the apartment and took a train to the Arc de Triomphe so I could draw its views into my sketchbook.

I chose the Arc because I knew that its location included everything that would fire the automatic response that inspires all of my work. I find it hard to work from memory or from photos, so I really have to work live-on-site, and the site has to be a place where something monumental is happening. The monumental thing that Paris does is lay down layers and layers of itself as every moment passes, each moment never to be repeated, and it has places where you can see that happen.

On top of the Arc de Triomphe I saw all of Paris laid out around me, in the grind of the traffic, the pressing crowds, the gulls, the frigid wind, and the sights: the wedges of city split by those radial boulevards, the classic lawns, the arresting architecture and Eiffel's perfect industrial icon.

Possibly the one sight I did not anticipate turned out to be one of the best. Soon after I arrived I saw, floating above those classic Paris rooftops and capped by the constant zigzag of passenger jets high above, a fleet of intensely coloured hot air balloons. They just meandered about the city, looking for all the world like exclamation marks streaked onto the cityscape. I could barely take my eyes off them, and couldn't believe my luck to see this reminder of those classic French hero-scientists among this brilliant, heaving city that stakes its place in the here and now yet all the while flaunts its past. I had to include them in my images of that day.

I made some of the images in Pentimento in Florence, Italy, in late 2005. Through the generosity of some patrons, Debra and I stayed in the centre of the old town in a beautiful apartment near the Duomo of Florence, the Santa Maria del Fiore. That for me was amazing, because without quite realizing it or even fully understanding why, the architectural dome has become a recurring motif in my work, and the Duomo's dome is perfection, to me. Perhaps it's the form itself, or because I'm taken with the vaulting ambition of the designers, I really don't know, but when I see great domes I'm always compelled to just sit and draw them from life. The Duomo was no different, and from the apartment I could open a window and look over the rooftops to contemplate this beautiful object.

At that time the Duomo was actually surrounded by scaffolding, which probably marred the experience for the thousands of tourists who trail past it daily, but for me the sight was serendipitous. It just reinforced to me that this place, which lives and thrives on its Renaissance past, still lives now. Scaffolding is all about remaking the city, and it signalled a truth outside the romantic conception of the place. In a way, the scaffolding was all of one with the profusion of air conditioning units, antennae and satellite dishes on the red roofs of the old town. Together, it reminded me of a thought that I've carried for a while now - that time speaks to us through our marks on the city, and that they are never entirely rubbed out. Everything changes, even in glorious artifacts like Florence, but when the change follows the layering of new lives on top of the old, it's beautiful.

A new focus for me in my current work is the horse, and Pentimento includes images of a horse's head that I first drew from an Etruscan sculpture in the Louvre Museum, Paris.

I have always drawn horses and they have long been fused into my sense of the city. I recall as a boy looking at Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano in books, and later, at the horse in works of Delacroix and Gericault, and of course, of Picasso.  I know now that the horse represents power and civilization and wealth, so to me they belong in a city and they reveal all of the politics and intrigue, and the ascent or destruction, of a place. The Etruscan statue that I used as a study for my own work was a tiny piece. It was elegant, as Etruscan art so often is, and it looked liked it was made for its lines to live on in new work.

 

Miller, Prue Bella Bellissima Australian Art Review

Issue 12 November 2006 – February 2007, p 25

From the hamlet of St Andrews east of Melbourne to central Florence in Italy , Debra Luccio and husband Marco (see ARR Issue 9)can be found literally traversing the earth working towards the perfect print.

Who on earth would not be drawn to Florence to work? Centuries of magnificence glaring from every visual plane, and the chance to tread where art immortals have paved the way. Debra and Marco will be taking those same steps on their next trip to Florence in 2007 where they have been invited to work at the Edi Graficar Studio, creating work upon a stone used to finish lithographs for artists such as Henry Moore, Tamayo and Carra. Marco Luccio will find this especially intriguing, as he is himself a most highly regarded printmaker in his own right. To have access to one of the finest print studios in Italy is a chance a craftsman such as Marco would once only have dreamt about. A few blocks from the river Arno , on Via San Niccolo the Edi Graficar studio can be found, surrounded by the twisted streets of a bygone era. Graficar may have a profound effect on the Luccios' work. The impact will be twofold – it will combine the physical characteristics of the circa 1800 press, and the imput from one of the most esteemed master printmakers, Felippo Becattini.

For Debra, it is another step in the process she finds fasinating and wondrous. An artist of the human form Debra works towards seeing bodies pushed to extreames, into shapes and poses that reveal newness to the form – the model and Debra working as a team to find what satisfies the criteria. “I am truly grateful to them [the models] as they twist themselves into all sorts of positions for me to work with. My models understand that I want my work to be universal, not about one thing or another.” Indeed, Debra cannot even think of herself as one thing or another – questioned as to whether she considers herself a sketch artist or a painter or a printmaker she just laughs.

“I don't know. People always try and categorize other people don't they? But I don't mind because it makes me look at myself and that's a good thing.” Her honesty about herself is not at all surprising when you consider she is an element of the work she strives to create that abounds in truth. “Drawing the nude from life is a great experience. The sense of connection I feel with the model whilst drawing is wonderful. It feels instinctive – uncensored and without design. I always feel it is such a privilege.”

To many, including myself, her lifestyle is a privilege afforded to so few. She and Marco travel the world, etching, drawing, absorbing beauty and energy and translating that into a tangible experience on generous Velin Arches paper for all to see. A curious artistic relationship – Marco famous for his depictions of the industrial, build environments and Debra for her nudes, it is nonetheless a jigsaw of ideals that fits together perfectly to form a strong bond – intrinsically involving the drawn line. It is this transference of lines and energy that makes their forthcoming journey so important: to see if something more can be added by this master printmaker and his ancient press. Debra is looking forward to her work with Felippo transforming her drawings and photographs of the surrounding sculpture of Florence into rich prints of tone and line. She will be using the traditional lithographic process by drawing directly onto the large smooth stone with oil-based crayons. Filippo will then etch and print the image from the stone. And then to the printing.

This is the most exciting part of their business – both Debra and Marco find this the point, when their prints are revealed to them, almost heart stopping. It is the moment of when their expectations can be met, dashed or surpassed. It is the same experience whether at Baldessin Press Studio in St Andrews or in Florence . The moment of truth. Before the Edi Graficar experience Debra will be exhibiting her nex show Light & Shade in Hobart and Marco will be exhibiting his show Pentimento – Images of Paris and Florence , at the Steps Gallery in Lygon Street until the end of November, before it moves to Canberra and Hobart .

 

Imprint Magazine article
Pentimento
1 November – 28 November 2006
Steps Gallery, Carlton , Vic

My major show for 2006-2007, Pentimento , explores the physical and symbolic layering of a place through time, amid the shadows and stories of its built (and rebuilt) environment. To create this work, I travelled with my wife Debra to Florence in November 2005 and then to Paris , seeking inspiration in those two beautiful cities. The prints were completed back in Australia at the Baldessin Press, St Andrews .

My response to Paris was almost visceral, whereas in Florence it was reflective and eclectic. I had an immediate and intense engagement with the panoramas of Paris . I looked at its cityscapes and felt compelled to create an image, but my task was to produce a good drawing that would allow multiple and fresh interpretations months and half a world away, while I sat in my studio in a bleak Kinglake winter. So, I withheld a little and changed my process to make it more disciplined.

I found myself particularly drawn to the motion and life of Paris , especially the way its boulevards roll through the cityscape, turning the wedges of buildings into organs fed by the arteries of streaming traffic. I was reminded that to draw such views was to explore all the reasons why I like to make prints: there was past, present and future all wrapped in these feats of engineering, in the city's legion flourishes of urban beauty.

Thanks to the generosity of patrons, Debra and I stayed in the centre of Florence , just minutes away from the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore. There, I began my recording process by making pencil rubbings of Florence 's innumerable and fascinating wall-engravings, such as letters, words, and crests. I needed these details as a catalogue of the physicality and the unique semiotics of the city.

I decided to create the Pentimento work on large plates, ranging from 60 x 90 cm to 90 x 130 cm. It was a hard choice to make because of the immense difficulty of handling and printing those plates, but I felt that certain scenes made sense only at that size.

Pentimento has more unique state prints than any of my previous shows. Spit-biting and hand-colouring have allowed me to add layers so that the new works have depth and intricacy. I am using a lot of burnt sienna to create a sepia look, suggesting remnants of memory and the essential elements of place. In other works, I have combined drypoint with monotype to create a greater visual depth with more layers and atmosphere.

More information at: www.marcoluccio.com

Marco Luccio will be given an Artist Talk at Steps Gallery at 2pm on 19 November.

Pentimento is curated by Mary Tokatlidis . The exhibition will travel to Impressions on Paper Gallery, Canberra , in July 2007, and Colville Street Art Gallery , Hobart , in November 2007. Other interstate and overseas venues are currently being arranged.

   
 
   
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