Italy in suburban Melbourne

By | September 5, 2016

Otto6Mystique, translucent images of Italian landscapes caught my eye walking past a contemporary art gallery in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. Having visited Italy last year, I was intrigued by the impressionistic images of stone houses, old bridges and hill-side architecture that seemed to be hundreds of years old. Upon entering the gallery, I discovered a gem of a space, extending deep into the building, with numerous exhibition rooms, big enough to house several artists at once, yet small enough to create a great homely ambiance.

This was Tacit Contemporary Art gallery in Abbotsford, suburban Melbourne. The gallery serves as a rental space for artists who wish to be represented by a commercial space. As a result it houses established contemporary artists, looking for a professional representation. The gallery is one of the most flexible spaces I have come across in Australia, while being personal and intimate enough. And to top off, the staff are knowledgeable and beautifully approachable. Who wouldn’t want to stop by?

While so many galleries around Australia are struggling to stay open, it is always invigorating to see spaces that present interesting work and do it well.

Art has always been a struggling industry. (And that’s not likely to ever change!) But having said that, it comes back to the definition of art and the value people perceive in it. Australia has long been associated with sports, and while there are some wonderful artists here, we will always see more people at a footy game than an art opening night. For that reason, seeing an aesthetic space holding quality works of art is about supporting living art. (You can read my musings on ‘Supporting art – living or dead’.)

The artist who caught my attention was Ottavio (Otto) Boron, Italian born, but a Melbournian since 1959. He drew from a very young age, and picked up his first oil brush at 15. Having worked as a scenic artist on Australian TV, he gained experience in working on large scale backdrops. Combined with persistent study of old and modern masters’ techniques, Otto is now represented by galleries throughout Australia.

I have always believed that traditions have a lot to teach us. It’s easy to run away from them in industries like art (and, perhaps, that’s why it always struggles), but ultimately those who invest into tradition often produce the best work. That is why Otto’s work connects, moves and mystifies all at once. It makes you turn around and look again. I was happy for his San Gimigniano, or The Village of the South to be the last things I see as I stepped out of Tacit Gallery, as the images lingered in my mind as I made my way to the train station. Like a taste of a delicious dessert that you want to hold on to for as long as possible!

You can see the exhibition “Visual Sensation” by Ottavio (Otto) Boron at Tacit Contemporary Art gallery until 11th September. And if you do see something that makes you want to look again – perhaps a great way of supporting a living artist would be to find a home for his work in your living room 😉

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