Revisiting the masters’ work in exhibition: Perugino and the Great Eastern Highway

Artist Chris McClelland in his studio with some of his new pieces. Picture: Marie Nirme        www.communitypix.com.au   d445165
Artist Chris McClelland in his studio with some of his new pieces. Picture: Marie Nirme        www.communitypix.com.au d445165

EUROPEAN romanticism and renaissance art is not something one local artist wants kept in the past.

Heavily influenced by historical art, Chris McClelland has interwoven the traditional style with more contemporary themes in his Bathers Beach Art Precinct Studio for the last 18 months as he prepares for his 11th solo exhibition.

Perugino and the Great Eastern Highway is a collection of 20 pieces, which McClelland said were open-ended and could be read on a number of levels.

“On one level they are simply an intuitive exploration of beauty and aesthetics, but on a more conscious level the works explore cultural identity (and) blending the whimsical with the atmospheric,” he said.

“The paintings are an eclectic mix of the past and present, the wide open spaces of Australia and the traditional images of French and Italian culture.

“I have always felt a strong resonance with the art of the Renaissance and the European cultural traditions, and the paintings by early Renaissance artists such as Uccello, Filippo Lippi, Fra Angelico and Perugino are particularly special to me.”

McClelland said while he and his wife loved travelling to Europe, they always suffered a “cultural identity crisis” back at home. “We would arrive back in Australia and literally feel like fish out of water,” he said.

“I decided to represent this by juxtaposing symbols of the European tradition with representations of Western Australia: space, vast skies and oceans and endless highways cutting through dry flat scrubland.

“I think this exhibition is some of the best work I have done and hopefully people will find the way I have worked with the theme interesting.

“I have tried to develop a visual feast in each work and create paintings that hold the viewer’s attention.”

What: Perugino and the Great Eastern Highway

Who: Chris McClelland

Where: Harvison Gallery, Brisbane Street, Perth

When: November 13 to 27Note: He lives in West Leederville and works at Hale School (Wembley Downs)